St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Senate approved legislation that would help to support victims of sexual assault by getting rid of Minnesota’s marital rape exception, sometimes called the “voluntary relationship defense,” which shields perpetrators from prosecution in certain instances if they are married to the victim. Bill language for SF 235 is available here. Representative Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) is the chief author of the House companion bill that was approved on February 21 of this year. Audio of Rep. Stephenson commenting on his legislation after it passed is available here.
Jenny Teeson of Andover, Minnesota shared her experience of being drugged, raped, and videotaped by her former husband. When she sought justice, the legal system said her case could not proceed because of a law that Stephenson has been working to repeal.
“Marital rape exceptions are abominable. Everyone deserves to be safe from rape regardless of who they are married to. Courageous Minnesotans like Jenny Teeson who are coming forward to tell painful personal stories are the inspiration behind this legislation,” said Rep. Stephenson. “I’m glad common sense prevailed in the Senate and that we’re one step closer to holding perpetrators accountable, regardless of marital status.”
Due to technical differences between the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate, the House will need to take action on the bill once more before sending it to the Governor for his signature. Upon final passage by the House, which is expected this week, Governor Walz is expected to sign the legislation promptly.