Last edited May 2013
Resources on Minnesota Issues
Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to
Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety
of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
On May 14, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed
HF 1054 into law, making Minnesota's marriage law gender neutral. The bill was passed by the House on May 9, 2013, and the Senate on May 13, 2013. The law goes into effect August 1, 2013.
In the November 2012 election, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman was rejected by Minnesota voters. Several bills were introduced in the 2013 Legislature to address marriage law as the same-sex marriage debate continued in Minnesota. A bill to establish civil unions was introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives on April 04, 2013. A House bill that would eliminate the word "marriage" altogether from lawbooks and enshrine "civil unions" in its place was introduced on April 25, 2013.
HF 1054, with the description "Marriage between two persons provided for, and exemptions and protections based in religious association provided for" is the bill that ultimately passed in the Legislature.
Minnesota has dealt with the issue of marriage between same-sex partners several times over the years. In fact, the Minnesota Supreme Court was
one of the first in the nation to rule on the issue of marriage between same-sex couples. The
Baker v. Nelson decision (291 Minn. 310, 191 N.W.2d 185)
in 1971 held that Minnesota Statutes prohibited marriages between same-sex partners. The case was appealed to the United States
Supreme Court. They issued a one sentence dismissal
of the appeal (409 U.S. 810, 34 L Ed 2d 65, 93 S Ct 37; October 10, 1972) that stated "The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial
federal question." Another significant event was the passage of
Laws of Minnesota 1977, Chapter 441, sec. 1. It amended
Minnesota Statutes chapter 517.01 which included the phrase
"Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract." To the end of this sentence they added the words
"between a man and a woman."
Twenty-five years after the Baker decision, the federal
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law on September 21, 1996
(U.S. Code Title 1, Chapter 1, Section 7 and
U.S. Code Title 28, Chapter 115, Section 1738C).
On July 8, 2010, a United States District Court Judge in Boston, Massachusetts ruled in
Gill v. Office of Personnel
Management that portions of the federal DOMA were unconstitutional. The federal government filed an
in January 2011. On February 23, 2011, the White House directed the U.S. Department of Justice to stop defending DOMA in court.
In 1997, the Minnesota Legislature passed its own version of what has been referred to as the Defense of Marriage Act
(Laws of Minnesota 1997,
Chapter 203, Article 10). The governor approved it on June 2, 1997.
This act clarified that
"lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex" and went on to
specifically prohibit "marriage between persons of the same sex"
(Minnesota Statutes chapter 517.01
In November 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled in
Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that the denial of civil marriage rights to gays and lesbians
was unconstitutional in that state. Due in large part to this decision, efforts were made to constitutionally ban marriage between same-sex
partners and, in some bills, its legal equivalent in Minnesota with the introduction of
SF 2715, and
SF 3003 in 2004. These attempts to get the same-sex measures on the ballot failed. In Minnesota the debate
continues and bills have been introduced by both opponents and proponents of this issue,
see the Legislative History section below for detailed information on them.
In May 2010, three same-sex couples from Minnesota, Douglas Benson, Duane Gajewski, Jessica Dykhuis, Lindzi Campbell, Thomas Trisko and John Rittman,
filed a lawsuit,
Benson v. Alverson, in Hennepin County
District Court. They argued that Minnesota's ban on marriage between same-sex partners violates due process, equal protection, and freedom of
association rights. On March 7, 2011, Hennepin County District Judge Mary Dufresne rejected their argument and
dismissed the lawsuit.
was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in May 2011. The bill proposes an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that states that marriage is the union of one
man and one woman. The amendment was rejected by voters in the 2012 election. Although constitutional amendment legislation cannot be vetoed,
on May 25, 2011, Governor Dayton issued a "symbolic veto"
of Laws of Minnesota 2011, Chapter 88 (SF 1308).
On July 11, 2011 the couples involved in the Benson v. Alverson lawsuit filed an
appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. On January 23, 2012,
the Minnesota Court of Appeals released their unpublished opinion.
They affirmed that Minnesota's Defense of Marriage Act doesn't violate the Single Subject or Freedom of Conscience Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution.
However, they sent the case back to the district court for a fuller review
of the claims related to citizens' constitutional rights to due process, freedom of association, and equal protection. A
Petition for Review related to the dismissal of
the case against the state was filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court. On April 17, 2012, the Minnesota Supreme
Court declined to review the case, allowing it to proceed to trial in Hennepin County. On September 14, 2012, Judge Mary Steenson Dufresne began hearing motions in the case. In late January, 2013, an agreement was reached between the county and the attorney for the plaintiffs to put off all action until June 1, after the end of the 2013 Minnesota Legislative session.
The issue of extending marriage rights to homosexuals continues to be debated throughout the United States. Some states have allowed same sex marriage
or same sex civil unions, while a number of others have banned them. States have taken different legal approaches; the issue
has been addressed through both state laws and through constitutional amendments. The scope of these laws and constitutional amendments vary. In states
that have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, some ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships while others ban only
same-sex marriage. In states that have legally recognized same-sex unions, some allow same-sex marriage while others don't allow same-sex marriage
but may allow civil unions or domestic partnerships.
The National Conference of State Legislature's guide,
Defining Marriage: Defense of Marriage Acts and Same-Sex Marriage Laws, provides a helpful summary of states' actions on this issue. Wikipedia
has several entries on this topic including,
U.S. State Constitutional Amendments Banning Same-Sex Unions and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States.
States That Define Marriage as a Relationship Between a Man and a Woman:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. (NCSL, June 2012).
State Same-Sex Relationship Recognition:
The Human Rights Campaign follows this issue closely and has compiled a
Relationship Recognition in the U.S. map.
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., New York, Maine, Washington, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota allow same-sex marriage.
- Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to allow same-sex marriage with the
Goodridge v. Department of Public Health court ruling in 2003. They began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on May 17, 2004.
- Connecticut had passed civil union laws in 2005
but on October 10, 2008 the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in
Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public
Health that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Connecticut's first legal same-sex marriage occurred on
November 12, 2008.
- Iowa began allowing same-sex couples to wed on April 27, 2009 due to the
Iowa Supreme Court's ruling in
Varnum v. Brien
filed on April 3, 2009.
- Vermont became the first state to adopt civil unions for gay couples in 2000. They then became
the first state to allow gay marriage by legislative action rather than court ruling when, on April 7, 2009,
the Vermont Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto of a bill
allowing gays to marry. The law became effective on September 1, 2009.
- New Hampshire passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal which the Governor signed on June 3, 2009.
The law took effect on January 1, 2010. They began allowing civil unions for same-sex couples in 2008.
- Washington D.C. started accepting applications for same-sex marriage licenses on March 3, 2010. They had implemented domestic partnership laws in 2002.
In December 2009, the City Council passed and the mayor signed the
Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment
Act of 2009. On July 15, 2010, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals released their
opinion which upheld the law.
- New York allowed same-sex couples to marry starting on July 24, 2011. The law was passed by the Assembly which was
controlled by the Democrats and the Senate which was controlled by the Republicans and signed by the
- Washington passed same-sex marriage legislation which the Governor signed on February 13, 2012. It was scheduled to become effective
on June 7, 2012, but was blocked when a challenge, Referendum 74, was filed.
Supporters gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2012 ballot.
On November 6, 2012, voters approved a referendum legalizing same-sex marriage, effective on December 6, 2012.
The state implemented limited domestic
partners laws in 2007. An "everything but marriage" expansion passed in 2009. Enough signatures were gathered to put a challenge to the
expansion on the state ballot in November 2009 as Referendum 71. The 2009 expansion was upheld by the voters.
- Maryland Maryland began offering limited domestic partner benefits on July 1, 2008, and is scheduled to begin allowing same-sex marriages on January 1, 2013. The Governor signed the legislation on March 1, 2012.
Opponents gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2012 ballot.
On November 6, 2012, voters upheld the law allowing same-sex marriage.
- Maine Maine implemented limited domestic partners laws in 2004. Legislation allowing marriage between any
two people passed on May 6, 2009. However it was never implemented due to the passage of a citizen's veto on November 3, 2009.
On November 6, 2012, voters in Maine legalized same-sex marriage.
- Rhode Island began allowing civil unions in July 2011. Legislation making same-sex marriage legal passed and was signed by the Governor on May 2, 2013. The law is effective August 1, 2013.
- Delaware began offering civil unions on January 1, 2012 with the enactment of the
Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011.
Same-sex marriage was passed into law May 7, 2013. Under the bill, no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law.
- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed
HF 1054 into law on May 14, 2013, making Minnesota's marriage law gender neutral. The legislation contains language for exemptions based on religious association.The bill was passed by the House on May 9, 2013, and the Senate on May 13, 2013. The law goes into effect August 1, 2013.
Other states have enacted state marriage equivalent measures.
- California created encompassing domestic partnership laws in 1999 which were expanded in 2005.
Between June and November 2008, nearly 18,000 same-sex marriages occurred due to a court ruling. Then a November
2008 ballot measure, Proposition 8, ended same-sex marriage in California; however, on May 26, 2009 the
California Supreme Court upheld the legitimacy of the previous marriages. On August 4, 2010 a United States District Court Judge ruled in
Perry v. Schwarzenegger that California's Proposition 8
was unconstitutional. The decision was appealed. On February 7, 2012, a panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit released an
opinion in the Perry v. Brown case (formerly known as
Perry v. Schwarzenegger). They upheld the lower court's ruling that California's Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California,
is unconstitutional. In February 2012, supporters of Proposition 8 asked the full United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review
the decision. On June 5, 2012, that court announced it would not reconsider the decision.
- New Jersey began allowing civil unions for same-sex couples in 2007.
- Oregon began offering domestic partners benefits in 2008.
- Nevada began offering domestic partnerships on October 1, 2009.
- Illinois began allowing civil unions on June 1, 2011.
- Hawaii began granting civil unions on January 1, 2012. A federal court upheld Hawaii's marriage definition as one man and one woman on August 8, 2012. Hawaii created reciprocal beneficiary relationship laws in 1997.
- Colorado In March 2013, the Colorado legislature passed legislation (yet to be signed into law) that allows civil unions for same-sex couples. A designated beneficiaries law had previously been in effect since July 1, 2009.
Wisconsin provides partial spousal rights, recognizing domestic partnerships since August 3, 2009.
Here are some of the efforts that have occurred in the Minnesota Legislature to address this issue since 1969:
SF 178/HF 61 were introduced to define marriage as a civil contract between male and
HF 3016/SF 1674 were introduced and stated that Minnesota would not recognize
homosexual marriages performed in other states.
was introduced authorizing same-sex marriage.
and HF 1725
were introduced to create specific statutory prohibitions on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
Other than an unsuccessful effort to recall
SF 11 from committee on the Senate Floor on March 26, 1997, none of these bills had hearings. However, language
from these bills was amended into
with the acceptance of the A-25 amendment that was offered in the House Judiciary
Committee on March 19, 1997. Attempts to get this language into
SF 830 in the Senate Judiciary Committee
on April 7, 1997 with the A-17 amendment failed. Another attempt to add the same-sex marriage prohibition language
occurred in relation to
SF 1908 on the Senate Floor on April 17, 1997. The amendment was ruled not germane. The language appears to have
been added to SF 1908 in the House Health and Human Services Committee on April 18, 1997 with the adoption of
the MB34 amendment. The language was then brought into the Conference Committee on SF 1908 in the House version of
the bill. This was the bill that eventually passed
of Minnesota 1997, Chapter 203, Article 10). This issue may have been discussed
in other meetings as well. The dates listed above are simply a few places to start your research and are by no
means an exhaustive list. A complete
legislative history research of all of the bills involved is the main
way to determine when the issue was discussed elsewhere.
SF 2715 were introduced to create a constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman.
These bills were heard in committee.
SF 3003 was introduced to create a constitutional amendment restricting marriage definitions to the
judicial branch. This bill had committee hearings.
HF 6/SF 1691
were introduced to create a constitutional amendment stating that marriage would be the union of one man and one woman
only. Hearings were held by both the House and Senate.
SF 1958 was introduced to create a constitutional amendment restricting marriage definitions to the
was introduced to create civil union contracts.
HF 1655/SF 1988
were introduced to create a marriage evaluation study group. A hearing was held in the House.
HF 1740/SF 1732
were introduced to allow recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Hearings were held by both the House and Senate.
HF 1054/SF 925 and
were introduced to make marriage laws gender neutral. HF 1054 passed as Laws of Minnesota 2013, Chapter 74.
HF 1687 was introduced to establish civil union contracts.
HF 1805 was introduced to eliminate the word "marriage" altogether from lawbooks and enshrine "civil unions" in its place.
SIGNIFICANT BOOKS AND REPORTS:
Bennett, Lisa, and Gary Gates. The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Children and Their Same-Sex Parents. Washington D.C.:
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2004. (HQ 75.28 .U6 B46 2004)
Bennett, Lisa, and Gary Gates. The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Seniors. Washington D.C.:
Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2004. (HQ 76.27 .O44 B46 2004)
Categories of Laws Involving Marital
Status, and 2004 Updated Appendices.
Washington D.C.: General Accounting Office, 1997, 2004.
(These reports estimate the number of
federal benefits provided to married people and denied to homosexuals due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.)
(Vertical File, M22)
Cere, Daniel. The
Future of Family Law: Law and the Marriage Crisis in North America. New York: Institute
for American Values; Washington, D.C.: Institute for Marriage and Public Policy; Montreal: Institute for
the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture, 2005. (KF 510 .C47 2005)
Corvino, John. Debating Same-Sex Marriage. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. (HQ1033 .C675 2012)
Equality from State to State: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans and State
Legislation. Washington D.C.: Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2004-2010. (HQ 73.3 .U6 E68)
Features of State Same-Sex Marriage
Constitutional Amendments. St. Paul, MN: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, 2005.
(HN 79 .M6 S56 2005)
Gates, Gary J., M.V. Lee Badgett, and Deborah Ho. Marriage,
Registration and Dissolution by Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. California: The Williams Institute, UCLA, July 2008.
Haltzel, Laura and Patrick Purcell. The
Effect of State-Legalized Same-Sex Marriage on Social Security Benefits and Pensions.
Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2008. (HQ1034 .U5 H38 2008)
Married-Couple and Unmarried-Partner Households: 2000. Washington D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau,
2003. (Vertical File, M22)
Minnesota State Bar Association Unmarried Couples Task Force Report. Minnesota, The Association, 2009. (KFM5502.A3 M56 2009)
Stone, Amy L. Gay Rights at the Ballot Box. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. (HQ78.U5 S76 2012).
Sullivan, Andrew. Same-Sex Marriage, Pro and Con: a Reader. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.
(HQ 1033 .S26 2004)
Unequal Under the Law: 515 Ways Minnesota Laws
Discriminate Against Couples and Families. Minneapolis, MN: Project 515, 2007. (KFM5502.A3 U54 2007)
Buffie, William C. "Public Health Implications of Same-Sex Marriage." American Journal of Public Health,
June 2011, p. 986-990.
"The Case for Marriage (What Marriage is For)." National Review, September 20, 2010, p. 16-20.
Collett, Teresa Stanton. "Constitutional Confusion: The Case for the Minnesota Marriage Amendment."
William Mitchell Law Review, Number 3, 2007, p. 1029-1057.
Cook, Mike. "To Have
and To Hold." Session Weekly, St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Information Office, February 25, 2010, p. 19, 23.
"Gay Marriage." CQ Researcher, March 15, 2013, entire issue.
"Gay Marriage Showdowns." CQ Researcher, September 26, 2008, entire issue.
"Gay Marriage: The Defense of Marriage Act on Trial." Supreme Court Debates, May 2013, entire issue.
Goldstein, Charles M. and Micaela Magsamen. "Constitutional Concerns in Defining Marriage in Minnesota." Hennepin Lawyer,
March 2012, p. 8-14.
"Here Comes the Brawl. Special Report: the Legal Fight over Same-Sex Marriage." National Law Journal,
August 23, 2010, p. 1, 4-9.
"Justice Delayed: The Case Against California's Gay Marriage Decision/Justice Delivered: Why California
Got It Right." The New Republic, June 11, 2008, p. 9, 12-13.
Kuznicki, Jason. "Marriage Against the State. Toward a New View of Civil Marriage." Policy Analysis,
January 12, 2011, entire issue.
Kyl, Jon. "The Threat to Marriage from the Courts."
United States Senate, Republican Policy Committee, July 29, 2003.
Lau, Holning and Charles Q. Strohm. "The Effects of Legally Recognizing Same-Sex Unions on Health and Well-Being."
Law and Inequality, Winter 2011, p. 107-148.
Lewis, George B. and Seong Soo Oh. "Public Opinion and State Action on Same-Sex Marriage." State and
Local Government Review, Volume 40, Number 1, 2008, p. 42-53.
Mannix, Andy. "When will gay marriage be legal in Minnesota?" City Pages. January 2, 2013.
Miller, Lisa. "Our Mutual Joy. Opponents of Gay Marriage Often Cite Scripture. But What the Bible Teaches
About Love Argues for the Other Side." Newsweek, December 15, 2008, p. 28-31.
Noble, Scott. "Marriage Wins, Legislature Passes Amendment Sending Issue to the Voters for the 2012 Ballot."
Minnesota Christian Examiner, June 2011, p. 1, 10.
Olson, Theodore B. "The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. Why Same-Sex Marriage is an American Value."
Newsweek, January 18, 2010, p. 48-54.
Schlichting, JoLynn M. "Note: Minnesota's Proposed Same-Sex Marriage Amendment: a Flamingly
Unconstitutional Violation of Full Faith and Credit, Due Process, and Equal Protection."
William Mitchell Law Review, Number 4, 2005, p. 1649-1676.
Schmidtke, Eric. "Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Why the Federal Judiciary is the Right Course
to Secure Marriage Equality, Remove Unnecessary Disparities, and Integrate Same-Sex Couples into Society."
Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, Fall 2010, p. 215-260.
Schubert, Frank and Jeff Flint. "Passing Prop 8. Smart Timing and Messaging Convinced California Voters
to Support Traditional Marriage." Politics, February 2009, p. 44-47.
Shell, Susan M., et.al. "Considerations on Gay Marriage: The Liberal Case Against Gay
Marriage/Conservative Policy Dilemmas." The Public Interest, Summer 2004, p. 3-36.
Strasser, Mark. "Marriage, Free Exercise, and the Constitution." Law and Inequality,
Winter 2008, p. 59-108.
Strasser, Mark. "State Marriage Amendments and Overreaching: On Plain Meaning, Good Public Policy, and
Constitutional Limitations". Law and Inequality, Winter 2007, p. 59-113.
"Symposium: The Federal Marriage Amendment: Yes or No?" St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Fall 2005.
Talbot, Margaret. "A Risky Proposal: Is It too Soon to Petition the Supreme Court on Gay Marriage?" New Yorker,
January 18, 2010, p. 40-51.
"What Next for the Marriage Movement?" American Experiment Quarterly, Winter 2005,
Wilkins, Richard G. "The Constitutionality of Legal
Preferences for Heterosexual Marriage." The Family in America, June 2001.
Winer, Anthony S. "How a Marriage Discrimination Amendment Would Disrespect Democracy in Minnesota."
William Mitchell Law Review, Number 3, 2007, p. 1059-1080.
SIGNIFICANT INTERNET RESOURCES:
National Conference of State Legislatures'
Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships page.
Same-Sex Marriage Guide - Guide created by the
Minnesota State Law Library.
Same-Sex Marriage Backgrounder page. This site provides current information on the
legislative and judicial status of this issue in the states.
Same-Sex Marriage in the
United States - Data from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Provides a general overview of the subject
including history, timeline, arguments for, arguments against, and current status worldwide.
UCLA School of Law - Independent research on public policy and laws related to sexual orientation.
Includes a number of publications on the economic impacts of extending or denying rights to homosexuals.
Groups That Support Same-Sex Marriage
Groups That Oppose Same-Sex Marriage
ADDITIONAL LIBRARY RESOURCES:
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
C92.2 (Constitution-MN Amendments and Revision), H40 (Homosexuality), M22 (Marriage)