Listen: TR5567 Marriage set-up (Aslanian)

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian reports that with the defeat of the marriage amendment and the Republican majorities that sponsored it, DFLers who favor marriage rights for same-sex couples see their opening. But opponents say the defeat of the amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman does not necessarily add up to support for same sex marriage.


2013 PRNDI Award, second place in Continuing coverage - Division A - Large Staff category


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SPEAKER: Let's look ahead to the 2013 legislative session, which starts at noon today. The hard fought battle over same-sex marriage that dominated Minnesota politics last year is likely to continue in some fashion during the coming session.

With the defeat of the Marriage Amendment and the Republican majorities that sponsored it, DFLers who favor marriage rights for same sex couples see an opening. But opponents say the defeat of the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman doesn't necessarily add up to support for same-sex marriage. Reporter Sasha Aslanian has this preview.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Although voters rejected the proposed constitutional amendment in November, state law still prohibits same-sex marriage. But there won't be a bill to legalize gay marriage on day one of the session. DFLers who now control both chambers say the first order of business is balancing the state's budget, dealing with jobs in the economy, and stabilizing school funding. When it comes to marriage, incoming House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, a DFLer from St. Paul describes a go slow approach.

ERIN MURPHY: On the question of marriage freedom and marriage equality, I think most important for us is to engage in a continued conversation with Minnesotans. And that has to happen both inside the Capitol and outside of the Capitol. And I really think the work of organizations like Minnesotans United in conducting that discussion with the people of Minnesota is going to set the tone and the pace for this issue in this legislative session and going forward for the state of Minnesota.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign that successfully defeated the amendment announced last month it plans to stay in existence and push for legalizing same-sex marriage at the legislature. DFL State Senator Scott Dibble of Minneapolis will be the chief sponsor of that push. But like Murphy, he says the issue is part of a larger conversation about helping Minnesota families care for each other.

SCOTT DIBBLE: We're trying to avoid, though, having this kind of take over the session and become the only thing that we talk about. And so I think properly situating it and taking it up in due time is the prudent course of action.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Opponents of same-sex marriage say they're not giving up the fight. Minnesota for Marriage, the group that tried to pass the amendment recently held a closed door strategy meeting with legislators and religious leaders to discuss ways to block gay marriage. Republican Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville, who voted to put the marriage amendment on the ballot two years ago, cautions Democrats not to overreach.

DAVE THOMPSON: Maybe what we learn from the Marriage Amendment debate and the outcome is the folks in Minnesota are OK with the way things are. And I think perhaps either side tries to push it too much beyond that is going to run into resistance and pay the bill at the ballot box.

SASHA ASLANIAN: As for the actual bill of what the Marriage Amendment cost both sides in lobbying, the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board is still tallying the costs. Final reports in the record breaking campaign won't be due until the end of the month. Executive director Gary Goldsmith says his office is understaffed and struggling to catch up on its oversight of the money that streamed into the marriage campaign.

GARY GOLDSMITH: I'm aware of a couple that were going to look into when we have time because they do raise issues. I'm also aware of one that we are looking into right now because it appears that the entity that was not registered with us actually should have been registered with us. So I don't know when we will get to that sometime in the next several months.

SASHA ASLANIAN: Goldsmith says the problem is that by the time the Campaign Finance Board publishes its findings on the money used to influence voters last November, the next lobbying battle at the Capitol will be well underway. Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio News.

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