Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed marriage equality with a vote of 75-59. The bill will now move on to the senate, where leaders are confident it will pass, and then to Governor Mark Dayton, who has said he would sign such a bill. The vote came after about three hours of comments from members of the house. Many representatives brought up their concerns about children.
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) cited disproved claims about the effect of marriage equality in Massachusetts and a study by Mark Regnerus, which was funded by the anti-LGBT Witherspoon Organization. Although the study claimed to have conclusive evidence regarding children raised by same-sex parents, it was later revealed that only two of the respondents had been raised by a same-sex couple from birth. Fortunately, Rep. Karen Clark (D-Minneapolis), the author of the bill, clarified this about the study in her remarks. She went on to say, "Several people mentioned children. The children being raised by same sex parents need the same protections." Rep. Clark is the longest serving openly lesbian member of state legislator in this country.
While Rep. Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) claimed (without proof) that "some children would lose their right to have a mom and a dad," Rep. Joe Mullery (D-Minneapolis) chastened, "It is insidious what we are doing to [kids with same-sex parents] right now," by not having marriage equality.
Rep. Carolyn Laine (D-Columbia Heights) told the house, "Family is more complex and amazing than we had imagined." In explaining her own decision to speak on behalf of the bill, Rep. Rena Moran (D-St. Paul) said, "as a descendant of slavery… I cannot take that injustice into the future."
She added, "Either we're equal or we're not. Nothing is stronger than love. So today I stand in support of love."
Though no Republican representative had publically said they would vote for marriage equality, there were a number of surprises including Jennifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and David FitzSimmons (R-Albertville).
The conversation also turned to quite often to religion. Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) spoke of a "pre-ordained order" and implored the other members to "seek the wisdom of [their] creator, God," as he explained his reasons for voting no. Much like Rep. Albright, Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) said that his vote of no was "made based upon his faith."
Rep. Zachary Dorholt (D-St. Cloud) however, while reminding his colleagues that he had a graduate certificate in marriage and family therapy from a Catholic university, said, "love is law. I'm going to obey that law."
Rep. Tim Faust (D-Hinckley) admitted there was a time "not too long ago" in which he would've voted no. In fact he was still undecided at the end of April. But he's obviously had a change of heart since then. Near tears, Faust spoke about his new wife, a woman, he says, he couldn't live without, and said, "There are people who cannot live without each other, yet because of the religious beliefs of other people, they do not have the right that I have taken for granted since I first realized what the opposite sex was."
Congratulations to Minnesota. We look forward to watching the Senate soon.