St. Louis County next week could become the first county in Minnesota to come out against the proposed state constitutional amendment to recognize legal marriage as only between one man and one woman.
The county board's Committee of the Whole voted 4-3 Tuesday to place a resolution on the full board's agenda next week that would put the county on record as opposing the amendment proposal that will be on the November ballot.
"I think it's wrong to institutionalize through our constitution the removal of rights from any particular group of people," said County Commissioner Frank Jewell of Duluth, who co-authored the resolution with Commissioner Steve Raukar of Hibbing.
Jewell said he expects the full Board to pass the measure next Tuesday by the same 4-3 margin that put it on the agenda. Beside Jewell and Raukar, commissioners Steve O'Neil of Duluth and Peg Sweeney of Proctor voted for placing the resolution before the full board. Voting against doing so were commissioners Mike Forsman of Ely, Keith Nelson of Fayal Township and Chris Dahlberg of Duluth.
Kate Brickman, press secretary for Minnesotans United for All Families, confirmed that St. Louis would be the first county statewide on record against the proposed amendment.
"We don't have any counties; We have 13 cities," Brickman said. Those include Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Mankato and several Twin Cities suburbs. She added that the group hasn't lobbied smaller governmental units to come out against the amendment.
"It's just sort of happened organically throughout the state," Brickman said.
After some preliminaries, the St. Louis County resolution to be voted on Tuesday says this:
"Whereas constitutions historically have been designed and interpreted to protect minorities from the arbitrary imposition of unjust barriers by the majority; and
"Whereas the proposed amendment would be contrary to the purpose of the Minnesota Constitution to protect the rights, privileges and freedom of conscience of all citizens by withholding from some individuals and families important legal rights and obligations; and
"Whereas the St. Louis County Board acknowledges and is committed to the importance of equality for all residents and citizens.
"Now therefore be it resolved that the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners in principle hereby goes on record in opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment entitled, `Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.'"