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Rep. Thissen: Passage of Gay Marriage Bill is a 'Fundamental Failure'

As the state gets set to put gay marriage directly before voters, Rep. Thissen expresses disappointment and dismay at the move.

Late Saturday night the Minnesota House passed a bill which will ask Minnesota voters to define marriage as being between one man and one woman during the 2012 general election. If approved by voters, the measure will become part of the Minnesota State Constitution. The bill passed the House by a 70-62 vote that broke roughly along party lines.

Richfield Patch caught up with House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL–Richfield/Minneapolis) following the vote and here's what he had to say:

Richfield Patch: What were your initial thoughts following the bill’s passage in the House?

Rep. Paul Thissen: My reaction is [one of] deep disappointment in the State Legislature. This [bill] is not consistent with the values of Minnesota. It’s incredibly divisive and not something we need in our politics. [The vote] was incredibly ill-timed for Saturday night. The entire thing was a fundamental failure of leadership by Republicans. And we’re not getting work done on the budget.

Richfield Patch: What was it like on the House floor before and during the vote?

Thissen: The tone was very somber, very apprehensive ... We’re inscribing discrimination in our state constitution.

Richfield Patch: What’s been the response of your constituency to this effort?

Thissen: All I would say is that the constituents I’ve talked to are, by a 90-10 percent margin–or perhaps even higher, perhaps as much as a 95-5 percent margin–against placing this on the ballot.

Richfield Patch: Do you think the ballot initiative will be approved?

Thissen: The people of Minnesota will do the right thing. Ultimately I think the people of Minnesota will vote against a constitutional amendment [defining marriage].

A.May May 24, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Separation of church and state means that a marriage in the eyes of the state is status, and nothing more. A status that gives rights including (but not limited to) medical insurance, taxes, housing...but most of all it recognizes an agreement between two people that want be associated with the other in all matters concerning the state government. The government doesn't have a say in what your religion believes. The 'Sanctity' of marriage is a religious point of view. If your church or religion doesn't want to accept same sex marriage....go for it, but the state is a governing body that issues a license and then recognizes that agreement for legal purposes. There was a day where people of different races couldn't marry....can you imagine rewinding back to that?? See it for what it is people!!! Rights are rights....keep religious beliefs out of it!
David n Ackert May 24, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Marrage was meant to be between one man and one women. Same sex marrages are not simply an alternative life style, if it were then other animals would be doing it also but you never see two dogs or two cats of the same sex getting it on. I believe it should be put to law that a marrage and the benefits that come with it are between one man and one women. Look how easy it would be to simply say your gay and get married to reap the tax benefits etc. then simply divorce when the time is right. A lot of young men and women could abuse the system quite easily to get the benefits of marrage.
R. May 24, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Actually, it was been well documented that there are over 500 species that have homosexual tendencies, behaviors, or relationships.
Philip Lowe, Jr. May 24, 2011 at 08:04 PM
All LGBT couples want is the opportunity, rights, privileges and responsibilities of being legally married to the person we love, without our State Civil Government discriminating against us. What people believe in their religion or church should not become the law of civil society. Let us marry, let us take care of our families. And straight people take care of their own. Enough putting your noses into our business and relationships and blaming us for problems that existed in straight marriages long before America began debating this issue.
Seth Engman May 24, 2011 at 08:08 PM
So it should be ok for a male and a female to abuse the system, but not a male and a male or a female and a female? I'm not sure I follow your argument.
Moore May 24, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Seriously, are you comparing LGBT people to a dog or cat? It is pretty easy for straight people to get married and reap the tax benefits etc... Is that wrong or is that ok under your standard?
Connie May 24, 2011 at 08:11 PM
This amendment, in this year, is the result of an unholy alliance of money, politics and religion. Nothing good has ever come from combining those three. The Minnesota Republican Party only sees the millions of dollars that the Catholic church and state and national anti-gay hate groups will be pouring into the state to turn out the conservative base. Money that the Republican Party won't have to spend. They won't have to spend a dime to Get Out the Vote. Print up a few lawn signs, a few mailing pieces, and that's about it. All the Republicans want is the millions of church dollars that will be spent on their behalf. They won't have to talk about jobs, or healthcare, or education, or transportation, or even a new Vikings stadium. All they will need to talk about is how they believe in "traditional" marriage. Money corrupts politics, and politics perverts religion. This is the epitome of sanctimonious, cowardly, lazy venality. It's offensive and, sadly, it'll work until church-going folk realize that they are mere tools of a corrupt politics.
Moore May 24, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Instead of trying to come up with your illogical excuses for why you oppose same-sex marriage, why not just come out and admit that it is based on your religious beliefs or that you have negative feelings toward LGBT individuals? There's no logic. At least have the cojones to admit it.
Jeanne May 24, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Mr. Ackert, by your same argument, there would be tons of straight people doing the same thing, getting married only for the tax benefit. They don't, do they. Yes, we want the benefits, but only because we take the responsibilities to each other and to our families and communities very seriously. Rep. Karen Clark has served in the Minnesota legislature for over two decades and she's faithfully paid the same money into her retirement as her colleagues who have only been there for five months. Yet if she dies, her partner gets nothing. If that freshman representative dies, his or her wife or husband dies, then they get everything. Please explain why this should be right and just.
Wendy May 24, 2011 at 08:20 PM
The ballot measure will fill our airwaves and other media with hateful rhetoric and outright lies. Whether or not it passes, a lot of harm will be done in the meantime.
Jeanne May 24, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Wendy, I worry about all Minnesota's children and what they will hear over the next 18 months. There were many children at the Capitol last week and some of the hatred I saw in some of their eyes was scary.
Philip Lowe, Jr. May 24, 2011 at 08:25 PM
As to what "marriage was meant to be" who is it that defines that? By what measure do you define who should or should not be married? We are not talking about marrying animals here. LGBT people are no more or less animal like in our sexual expressions than heterosexual couples. There is plenty of evidence that heterosexual couples engage in the type of sexual activity that gay couples do. Yet, no one is advocating an amendment to ban marriage between straight people. What continues to forever interest me is that conservative Christians and arch-conservative Catholics are okay with America being governed by their understanding of what the Bible reads about homosexuality, but not one of them is speaking up about the incredible greed and social injustice of not taking care of the poorest of the poor. Even though Mother Theresa of Calcutta would not support marriage equality, I still think the world of her devotion to the poor in the world. Think of what $4.7 million could do for all of the deficits of our nation. That is how much money is being funneled into Minnesota to get this amendment passed on the ballot. This issue will not help the Minnesota economy. It will not create jobs, in fact it will hurt Minnesota businesses. This amendment will not strengthen the reputation of Minnesota in a positive way what so ever.
Barbara May 24, 2011 at 08:35 PM
1,138 federal rights. That's how many rights from which I'm excluded because I'm a partnered lesbian. The efforts of some Republicans and "religious right" are such a distraction from so many pressing issues we face today. They pander to ignorance, fear and discomfort, and slickly promote an idyllic past which didn't exist (or existed only for a few). So many resources (time, money, effort) will now be expended to prevent something which isn't even necessary in this state, given current laws preventing gays & lesbians from marrying their partners/spouses. I have to wonder what benefit those legislators saw for our state when they put up for a vote the rights of a minority. Of what are they so afraid?
Seth Engman May 24, 2011 at 08:40 PM
In Wisconsin, Gov. Walker has stopped defending a Domestic Partner registry set up by law to give same-sex couples more rights because he believes that it violates the Wisconsin sate constitutional ban on gay marriage. Even if civil unions were allowed in Minnesota, the same groups challenging it there would be opposing it here, too.
Molly Pittelkow May 24, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Before making uneduated points, perhaps you should read a book, newspaper, or flip on the Discovery channel. Homosexuality is very well documented across history in just about every species on the planet. Try a simple google search before making idiotic comments. "And look how easy it would be to say you're gay and get married for benefits?" How is this argument any different in regards to who you marry? If someone was actually trying to rob the system for benefits, why would they pretend to be gay to do it? that is ridiculous. I'm willing to listen to eduacted reasoning but of all the arguments I've ever heard on this topic, yours is the biggest pile of garbage I've heard yet. Congratulations for having the least educated, least thought out, and worst exampled argument on the board! for the record, I'm straight, white, and married with children. I just happen to believe that only a really crappy person believes they are entitled to rights that others should not be.
Paul Achman May 24, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Everyone should be treated equally. I don't get a say in your marriage and you shouldn't put mine to a vote. It's a highly personal decision to marry, and not every Minnesotan is on my guest list.
Moore May 24, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I also worry about the teens who are struggling with their sexuality. This is saying to them that they're not worth the same as their straight counterparts, that they are somehow "less than" because of who they are. Don't we owe our children better than this?
Ann M May 24, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Please keep in mind, that even if you oppose same sex marriage, you should vote NO on the amendment. Why? Because there is already a state law banning same sex marriage, this amendment is redundant and a waste of time and money.
Mary Barnes May 25, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Seeking dual citizen ship.If T Paw wins, I will be in Canada ASAP. Since the hubby is French CA.... Someone please, M. Bachmann, TPaw, yes you went to college, but honestly? A Bridge fell down under, yes your wtach. Because, you thought you were cute. Well Listen up, Minnesota, hates your guts, and also M. M. bachmann, not relation to the flower store. Thank God. There is a God, but not in Eagan, Woodbury, or Lakeville, if you read the "bible" God has spoken. Yup a minnow loves fishing.
Greg Schreck May 25, 2011 at 02:58 AM
I have no problem with gays having all the rights of others citizens. Just don't call their union a marriage. I know it is just a label but the two relationships are different. There are a lot of folks in Minnesota that think a child should be raised in a family with a "mommy and daddy". Right or wrong, this is reality and some don't want it changed. If you didn't grow up in that environment, you wouldn't understand the benefits of promoting and preserving it. It will be very interesting to put it up for vote.
Philip Lowe, Jr. May 25, 2011 at 03:20 AM
In other words you are all for LGBT people being considered "not good enough" for marriage, but it is okay if there is a separate classification for our relationships. If you are going to make the case that a child should be raised in a family with a mommy and daddy, let us put some cards on that table to make it a fair game. There are many LGBT families raising children. One particular gay couple in South Minneapolis is raising a family of 12 boys all of whom have come from homes where they were sexually violated in their "safe straight" biological homes. Those two heroic dads know each and every boy, and when one of them is missing from the home, they know exactly where they are, and where to find them. As part of the campaign to get Minnesota voters to pass this amendment, they will produce commercials that say that the reason LGBT people want to get married is to recruit children. Yet, so many LGBT families are caring for children in incredible ways. Should this amendment pass, the next step will be to over turn MN's open adoption policy for LGBT and well taken care of children by LGBT parents, will be threatened to be removed. These laws are being designed by very biased straight people. There is no reason for LGBT relationships to be "classified" differently, except for people's prejudices. There is no such thing as a "non-personal" anti-LGBT campaign. They affect the real lives of real people.
Greg Schreck May 25, 2011 at 03:48 AM
They are different relationships. That is all I am saying. Why cant we have a different name for a union between a man and a woman and a union between gay couples? What is wrong with that? This is about labeling a male a male and a female a female. Should we get rid of those labels also? I guess maybe we should and that will be next on the ballot. I look at this labeling as just clarity rather than discriminating. If I ask a person if they are married and they say no, I'm in a civil union, then I know their partner is the same sex. Otherwise I am looking around the room for their opposite sex counterpart. It tips me off right away that they are gay also. Maybe that is why the gay folks want the same label. So they can hide their sexual orientation from some folks because they might be discriminated against? If that is the case then they should come out and say it!
Philip Lowe, Jr. May 25, 2011 at 04:07 AM
There are differences in the way one straight marriage works from another. Some are not able to bear children, yet they call still call it a marriage. Even inter-racial marriages for straight people are still called marriages. Why should only LGBT individuals not be able to call their public relationship of commitment and love and desire to be with one another till death, be classified any differently just because they are LGBT and not straight. The idea of calling straight relationships a marriage and LGBT relationships a "civil union" is promoting heterosexual privilege at the expense of those who are not. What you are advocating is a classification for LGBT people that is nothing more than segregation. Every night before we go to sleep, my husband and I say these words to each other: "Thank you for being my husband." Why would you want us to be denied the full equality of calling our relationship a marriage? Just to make you more comfortable with something you already have an issue about? All I am asking for is that the voters of Minnesota not let the State Constitution become an instrument that further denies me a right that Minnesota has already taken from me. In a so called "free society" the idea that my right to marry the person I love should even be in the hands of a legislator, ballot election or judicial decision is an outrageous hypocrisy.
Greg Schreck May 25, 2011 at 08:16 AM
All this reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story of the machine that puts the "star" on the belly of the Sneeches. Gay people need to accept themselves as they are and recognize that they are "different". Getting a "star" on your belly is not going to make a union between a man and a woman the same as a union between same sexes. Two different sexes can produce an offspring that is exactly one half of each of them. You are most likely here because your parents decided to have sex between a man and a woman rather than between a same sex partner. Because there is a difference, the State has the legal right to define a "marriage" as being between a man and a woman. If I slap a same sex teammate on the butt and I know that person is gay, is that a sexual violation of that person? Could this be one of the reasons if might be a good idea to have proper labels for things?
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl May 25, 2011 at 11:26 AM
It’s important to understand the difference between a marriage and a marriage license. Many married couples have a marriage license. There are religious marriages , state marriage rights, federal marriage rights and these are all separate entities. For a heterosexual couple - they get married, apply for a marriage license and all that same time, both can occur. And for heterosexual couples that license is required to be honored federally and in every state. For same-sex married couples there is a law that sets them aside for different treatment under federal and state marriage laws. When a same-sex couple marries and receives a marriage license, the federal government is forbidden from honoring it by this law. Same-sex couples with a valid marriage license in their home state, are still not federally married. They file state taxes as a married couple and federal taxes as two single people. The same law says that states are allowed choose whether or not to honor another state’s marriage license – only if those listed are a same-sex couple. So, married couples may have a marriage license that is valid in their home state or not. They may have a marriage license that is valid federally or not. They may have several licenses from various states and other countries and still may or may not be granted marriage rights where they live. It does get complicated. And we haven’t talked about religion yet.
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl May 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Each religion makes its own marriage rules. Some religions require that both members of the couple be an official part of that religion for the marriage to be valid. Some require that a member of that particular religion or sect’s clergy perform the ceremony for it to be valid. Some have other requirements. A couple can be denied marriage within a certain religious institution, sect or religion and still can get a marriage license. A couple with a valid religious marriage may be denied a marriage license. The two often go hand in hand and so it is often taken for granted that a couple can get both, but in fact they are separate issues. As a specific example, my own religion is Judaism and our sect is Conservative Judaism. In Conservative Judaism, only two Jewish people can marry. If a Conservative Jew wishes to marry a non-Jew, they cannot do so within Conservative Judaism. They can however get a marriage license, regardless of this. The religious law has no bearing on state and federal law – they are separate issues. It goes the other way too - state and federal law cannot force a religious institution to perform a marriage. The fact that an interfaith couple has the legal right to get a marriage license has no bearing on a synagogue, which cannot be forced to perform a wedding just because the couple is eligible for a marriage license.
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl May 25, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Marriage and a marriage license are two separate things. That’s important to understand, because sometimes when marriage laws and marriage licenses are discussed it gets shortened and called “marriage” for convenience (by people arguing both for and against fair marriage laws), even though that can be confusing. It gives the impression that passing a law can keep couples from marrying and that is not what is being discussed – it how the law will treat a segment of married couples that is at question
Seth Engman May 25, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The story of the Sneetches could be looked at exactly the other way, too, Greg. One group has something they think they deserve that the other group doesn't. As they fight desperately to keep their exclusivity, they ultimately realize the futility of trying to keep that distinction and realize they are all indeed equal. I believe this is what time will show in the case of gay marriage. Again, not all heterosexual marriages can produce offspring. Does this somehow invalidate that marriage? Yet they could still make excellent parents through adoption. This is the same option gay people want to have. If someone slaps another person's hindquarters, it is up to the person receiving the slap to decide how comfortable they are with it, gay or straight. Now you are just being silly.
Seth Engman May 25, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Greg, could you imagine by asking if someone is married you would want know if the person's spouse is the same race as they are? That way you could know by looking around the room if you are looking for a black, Asian, white, Hispanic, or whatever race or ethnicity that person happens to be. A marriage is between the two people in it — it doesn't have to tell YOU anything. I personally could care less as long as they are happy. Now I understand this may not be the intent of your argument, but to me it is the same type of discrimination. I see no difference between the two.
Mary Barnes May 26, 2011 at 02:55 AM
Listen up, Rhode Island, we in Minnesota, do not care to have anymore bridges falling down. T. Paw, and M. Bachmann, dumber than a box of rocks. and the bridge in Stillwater, look to the east coast. MN., sometimes I am embarrased. Hello, a tunnel... but, again. Dumber than a box of rocks. Nuff said. I met the most awesome women, here from PA, on the lightrail, that the Rep. do not want. Thank you for visitng the Mall of America, we are the Midwest. Kemps, Joe Mauer. Just the cows.

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