Partners in same-sex relationships would have a greater say in carrying out each other’s final wishes, under a bill passed by the House 78-55 May 11.
Sponsored by Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), HF454/ SF341* would give a surviving domestic partner the right to control the disposition of their deceased partner’s remains. The surviving partner could also sue to recover medical or funeral costs in the case of a wrongful death.
The bill defines domestic partners as same-sex couples who are in a “committed interdependent relationship” with each other and have assumed responsibility for each other’s basic welfare, financial obligations and well-being.
Murphy said the bill would give same-sex couples the same after-death rights as married couples.
Republicans criticized Democrats for choosing to take up the bill when lawmakers are under a budget crunch.
“We have a fiscal emergency and yet we sit here today doing divisive politics,” said Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague). “I think what we ought to be doing is talking about how we’re going to solve our budget deficit.”
“This is not intended to divide us,” Murphy said. “This is a narrowly-drawn piece of legislation focused on ending discrimination in our law.”
The bill was amended to include minor language changes. It now goes back to the full Senate, which passed it 41-24 May 4, for concurrence.
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