Gay and lesbian advocates are embracing a last-minute change to a same-sex marriage proposal that would add the word “civil” in front of marriage in state law.
The move is designed to clarify that the proposal will only change the legal definition marriage, not encroach of religious freedom for those who are opposed. The change is also designed to persuade a few Republicans to support same-sex marriage in Legislature and give the proposal a stronger bipartisan coalition.
Freshman Republican Rep, David FitzSimmons, R – Albertville, has offered the change. FitzSimmons could not be reached for comment. It is not clear whether the change will prompt him to vote for the measure.
“Minnesotans United supports this amendment, and we will encourage the members of the Minnesota House of Representatives to support it as well,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United, the lead group pushing for same-sex marriage. “Representative FitzSimmons’ amendment affirms the fact that Minnesotans want same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry in our state while also ensuring that clergy members and religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs free from government intrusion.”
The House will vote on the measure Thursday, but so far not a single Republican House member has indicated their support for same-sex marriage.
If the House passes the measure, the Senate will take it up Monday.
State Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said he supports the amendment.
Petersen is the only Republican legislator to say he will vote to legalize same-sex marriage. He said the change to “civil marriage” has been in the works for weeks to ease some Republican concern about the measure.
“It’s come down as of late as the reality of the vote was setting in,” Petersen said.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. On Wednesday, he called the upcoming vote on same-sex marriage a historic moment for the state and one to be proud of.