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MPR’s Karen-Louise Boothe reports on members of the Minnesota House debating for more than two hours the merits DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), a measure banning same-sex marriage. The roll call vote was preceeded by more than two hours of sometimes very personal and emotional testimony. In the end, representatives voted overwhelmingly to keep it as amended to the omnibus health and human services bill.


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KAREN LOUISE BOOTHE: A bill banning same-sex marriage has surfaced many times this legislative session. And last night, representatives voted overwhelmingly to keep it as amended to the Omnibus Health and Human Services bill. Basically, the amendment bans the state from legally recognizing marriages between persons of the same sex, and if signed into law, would take effect July 1. Last night's roll call vote was preceded by more than two hours of sometimes very personal and emotional testimony. Republican Arlon Lindner of Corcoran testified the ban is needed in order to preserve family strength.

ARLON LINDNER: This is to protect our children and our grandchildren. Marriage is the foundation of our society. A man and a woman procreate and having children, raising those children, that's the natural way. The unnatural way is two men to get married, two women to get married.

And we should never tolerate that or have that in our society. We're not bigots by doing something like this. We're upholding civilization.

If you can allow a marriage with two men and two women, you can do it with anybody. It could be a man and a child. It could be a man and their dog. It could be anything.

KAREN LOUISE BOOTHE: DFLer Karen Clark of Minneapolis, the only open lesbian in the house, acknowledged the political predicament many lawmakers have found themselves backed into on this issue this session.

KAREN CLARK: I have had members of my own caucus and of your caucus who have said to me, Karen, I know what the right thing is to do here. I'm afraid to do it. Please, will you still be my friend after this is over? I'm going to take my mother's advice, my father's advice, and say, if bigotry prevails, if the kind of ignorance that causes people to go the way that I think probably is going to happen here today, yeah, I'm going to stay here.

You're not driving me away. And I'm still going to be your friends and I'm still going to challenge you to face the truth. And I'm still going to challenge you by just being who I am and expecting you to be all that you can be.

KAREN LOUISE BOOTHE: Clark reminded house members that though their vote to ban same-sex marriage would not threaten the health of her own lifelong relationship with her partner of nine years, it would prevent same-sex couples from obtaining equal rights on many other fronts.

KAREN CLARK: Family health coverage. Joint taxation benefits, inheritance rights, bereavement leave, these are all things that people face who do not have the legal rights of marriage, no matter how long they have been together. And I have friends who've been together for decades, many decades.

KAREN LOUISE BOOTHE: But Clark, whose parents were seated on the House floor in support of their daughter, would not gain the support needed from her colleagues to remove the amendment from the bill. Her effort to remove it failed on a vote of 105 to 24. Such a ban is not amended to the Senate version of the bill and will therefore have to be negotiated by a conference committee. At the Capitol, this is Karen Louise Boothe, Minnesota Public Radio.


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