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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL)

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DESERVES PUBLIC DEBATE

Friday, April 3, 2009
Minnesotans are proud of our tradition of fairness and decency. We value equal rights and oppose discrimination in all forms - but we are not free of it. Some Minnesotans have fewer rights than others, which is why the issue of marriage equality has become a leading issue. It's crucial that we have open public discussion about same sex marriage in Minnesota. We’re having that debate in the legislature. Several weeks ago I introduced a bill requiring the State of Minnesota to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bill does not require same-sex marriage in Minnesota, but acknowledges that other states have done so. Other bills would use a variety approaches to address same-sex marriage and domestic partner benefits. Deciding to expand the definition of marriage to include all citizens is a matter for the court of public opinion--not just a court of law. Approaching same-sex marriage through legislation is the best way to give the public the final word. In the end, the decency of Minnesotans will win out, and our state will acknowledge the importance of equal rights and reject discrimination. This is a much better outcome than letting judges decide the matter without broad public support. In the same way, it would be a terrible mistake to pursue a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in response to the Iowa decision. We need much more testimony on the matter of same-sex marriage, and passing a constitutional amendment would close the debate prematurely. Taking that action now would preempt the necessary public discussion of whether Minnesota's commitment to equal treatment will accommodate marriage equality.