Monday, May 13, 2013

Minnesota Becomes 12th State To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.

The Minnesota state Senate today, by a vote of 37-30, gave final passage to HF 1054, a bill authorizing same-sex civil marriage in the state.  The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by a vote of 75-59. (Legislative history.)  According to the New York Times, Governor Mark Dayton promised he will sign the bill tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.  This will make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The new law includes a number of protections for clergy and religious organizations that object to same-sex marriage. It provides that non-profit religious organizations and educational facilities they operate or supervise can take action on the basis of sexual orientation with respect to education, employment, housing and real property, or use of facilities, except as to secular business activities unrelated to the organization's religious or educational purposes. Also these religious and educational institutions may refuse to furnish goods, services, facilities, or accommodations directly related to the solemnization or celebration of a civil marriage that is in violation of the organization's religious beliefs. They may not be subject to any fine, liability or loss of tax exempt status for such refusal. No member of the clergy or other person authorized to solemnize marriages may be subject to liability or any penalty for refusing to solemnize a marriage for any reason.

The bill also changes all references in Minnesota statues from "marriage" to "civil marriage", and assures same-sex couples married in Minnesota that Minnesota courts will be available for any future dissolution of the marriage if the couple has moved to a state that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage and divorce.