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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].

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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