The Minnesota State Senate today passed the marriage equality bill by a vote of 37-30, following four hours of debate. State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) voted no on the issue. Only one Republican, Senator Brandon Petersen, voted in favor of the bill, while three DFL Senators voted no (Dan Sparks, Leroy Stumpf, and Lyle Koenen).
Governor Mark Dayton has indicated he will sign the bill, and a signing ceremony is planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon on the South Side Capitol Steps. Minnesota will be the 12th state to institute marriage equality.
Rumors were swirling before the vote that Ortman, who had been consistently opposed to marriage equality in recent sessions, may be reconsidering her position. At times during the debate, she was spotted conferring with Senator Scott Dibble, the bill’s author. Hanging over Ortman’s vote was the notion that she might be a candidate for higher office in 2014. Recent speculation has indicated that she may be looking at the race for U.S. Senate against Al Franken.
The Republican base is strongly opposed to marriage equality. Polling from January shows 79% disapproval among Republicans, which likely makes the path to endorsement difficult for a marriage equality supporter.
The marriage equality bill passed the Minnesota State House of Representatives today 75-59. Four Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill: Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Andrea Kieffer (Woodbury), Pat Garofalo (Farmington), and David FitzSimmons (Albertville), while two DFL Representatives voted against it: Patti Fritz (Faribault) and Mary Sawatzky (Willmar).
Carver County Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer), and Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) all voted no, even after FitzSimmons’s amendment to rename all references to “marriage” in Minnesota statute as “civil marriage”, thereby providing additional reassurance that religious institutions would not be impacted by approval of marriage equality.
As previously noted, voters in both Hoppe and Pugh’s districts voted against the marriage amendment last November so they are swimming upstream in this regard. Pugh’s vote is a distinct contrast from her district, as 33B voted against the marriage amendment by 17 points – -the third largest margin of the 21 House Republican districts that voted against the amendment.
[Picture of the voting board above courtesy of Leanne Kunze’s Twitter stream.]
The Minnesota House of Representatives will vote on H.F. 1054 — the marriage equality bill — on Thursday. The movement of this bill to the floor is a signal from leadership in the DFL majority that they have the necessary 68 votes to pass the bill, as Speaker of the House Paul Thissen has indicated he would not bring the bill up for vote unless there was sufficient votes to pass it.
In recent weeks, there has been substantial movement among rural DFL legislators towards the bill, including Hinckley’s Tim Faust and Crosby’s Joe Radinovich just within the last few days. With passage seemingly assured at this point, the interesting thing to watch will be if any suburban Republicans vote yes on the bill as well. 21 House Republicans — including Chaska’s Joe Hoppe and Chanhassen’s Cindy Pugh — represent districts that opposed last November’s marriage amendment. As of now, none of them have publicly indicated their support for marriage equality.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says he has sufficient votes in his caucus to pass the bill in that chamber as well, but does not intend to bring the bill to the floor until after the House vote. Governor Mark Dayton has indicated he will sign the bill if it passes both chambers.
Ten states currently have marriage equality, and Delaware’s legislature is also voting on the issue this week (with passage expected).
Meanwhile, negotiations designed to produce a compromise budget between the House, Senate, and Governor are ongoing. As noted previously, untangling the three tax plans is likely to biggest source the most difficult challenge faced by the negotiators. With less than two weeks left in the session, the pace is likely to be rather hectic to get through all the necessary business by then.
This week’s edition of the Chaska Herald features an editorial indicating the paper’s opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot to limit the definition of marriage to be one man and one woman.
Here’s a key passage from the piece:
The United States has a long tradition of debating our rights, namely measures that would limit freedoms. The public has largely argued against things that would limit rights – to bear arms, to worship, to free speech.So it’s alarming that the state Legislature would ask the public to enshrine in the State Constitution a law that would strive to take away rights – the right of two Minnesotans to marry.
Traditionally, we know that marriage has been defined as between one man and one woman. We also know that customs and laws have changed for the better since the founding of the United States, providing equal rights for women and minorities. As a result, our country has grown stronger.
The Herald joins three other Carver County newspapers — the Carver County News, Waconia Patriot, and Norwood-Young America Times — in opposing the amendment. Their editorial, which ran last week, echoed many of the same themes:
America was not founded on the principle of oppression. America was founded on the principle of freedom.
Passing the amendment would place limits in our constitution on the freedom of same-sex citizens. It would erect a barrier to continuing the discussion of same-sex marriage, for today’s voters and for future generations of Minnesotans who might want to reopen the debate.
Voters would, in fact, be making choices for those future generations. Voters would be telling many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that marriage won’t be an option for them.
That’s not freedom, that’s oppression, and we are concerned what message that sends the world about our state. What kind of Minnesota do we want to present to the world.
The implications of that message may reach farther than we realize. We believe the marriage amendment, if passed, would limit the ability to recruit and retain top talent. Minnesota companies such as General Mills and St. Jude Medical have spoken out against the amendment, saying it would hurt their ability to recruit and hire a diverse group of employees.
The papers are right on this issue. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in this state based on statute, there is no need to make it doubly illegal by enshrining such language in the Constitution.
(On a snarky note, is it possible to have Carver County Commissioner candidate profiles retroactively removed from the Herald? Asking for some friends.)