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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for August, 2013

NOM Threatens To Demonstrate Its Own Irrelevance

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2013

The National Organization for Marriage has resonded to the arrival of marriage equality in Rhode Island and Minnesota today with another promise to retaliate against state lawmakers and roll back the clock:

With marriage having been redefined and same-sex ‘marriages’ beginning today in Minnesota and Rhode Island, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today reminded state politicians that it will work to hold them accountable to voters come election day. NOM has pledged to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that voters know who is responsible for redefining marriage.

…Virtually no politician in Minnesota or Rhode Island ran on a platform that openly pledged that he or she would redefine marriage if elected to office. Yet, when given the opportunity, they did so. NOM has pledged to spend up to $500,000 in Minnesota and $100,000 in Rhode Island informing voters about the issues.

“When the inevitable consequences happen, we will make sure that voters know who is responsible for them,” Brown said. “This issue is far from settled in either of these states.”

NOM’s track record for retaliation against lawmakers is, well, not very impressive. So all that money they’re pledging to spend in Minnesota and Rhode Island? Be my guest.

Churches in Minnesota get ready for same-sex marriages

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2013

The concept of conducting a same-sex marriage may not seem to be tough; you just do what you would do with an opposite-sex couple. But in practice, there are some differences that require pastors to adjust.

From the Austin (Minnesota) Daily Herald:

At Edina Morningside Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation, Pastor Rosemary Rocha will be performing her first same-sex marriage at the church next month. When talking to the two men who want to be married by her, Rocha says she asked them, “Do I pronounce you husband and husband? … I think we’re looking at I’m to pronounce them ‘married.’?”

“I’ve been learning along the way,” Rocha added. “Because we don’t have a big population of LGBT people in our church, it’s important for me to educate and familiarize myself with some of the issues. You can’t just go assuming … there are some things that might be the same for same-gender and male-female weddings. But what does it mean for a gay couple … who have been in love, cared about people, and been denied this? ”

Ex-Gay Leader Sentenced For Criminal Sexual Assault of Male Clients

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2013

Longtime pastor Ryan Jay Muehlhauser of Cambridge, Minnesota was charged last November with eight counts of felony, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in  case involving two adult males who came to him for counseling aimed at changing their sexual orientation:

Muehlhauser pleaded guilty to two of those counts Feb. 28. Under the plea agreement, Muehlhauser will serve 160 days in Isanti County Jail, remain on supervised probation for 10 years and register as a predatory offender. The other six counts were dismissed. Under state sentencing guidelines, a prison sentence can’t be ordered for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

…Muehlhauser previously admitted in court that he engaged in sexual contact with two adult males. He admitted the sexual contact with one of the victims took place throughout October 2012 inside the prayer cabin located on the church property while he was providing spiritual advice in his role as pastor. He admitted to placing his hands on the victim’s genital area and suggesting the victim fondle himself.

He also admitted the sexual contact with the second victim occurred from March 1, 2012 through Nov. 4, 2012. He admitted to feeling the victim’s genital area and calling the sexual encounters “blessings.” He said he committed these acts for his own sexual gratification.

Both victims remain unnamed. One victim said that he met Muehlhauser at an event sponsored by Outpost Ministries, one of the ex-gay ministries that have joined the Restored Hope Network. Outpost director Nate Oyloe will be speaking at RHN’s convention this weekend. Oyloe also heads the Twin Cities House of Prayer, which has links to Mike Bicke’s Kansas City-based International House of Prayer, a movement which counts Lou Engle as among its most prominent adherents.

It’s Official! Minnesota Is An Equality State!

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2013

Fireworks over Minneapolis

You remember how every time a new state or country completed the process of granting marriage equality for same-sex couples, we’d post a picture of fireworks. But in the past two weeks, we’ve had Rhode Island and Delaware do that, and we’ve had a hard time mustering the energy to Google “Fireworks Providence” to find a photo to swipe. And it’s not just BTB. I noticed our local paper, the otherwise somewhat left-of-center Arizona Daily Star, burying the Minnesota story deep inside — in the B section, no less, under one of those “Around the Nation” aggregations.

But when Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) signed that state’s marriage equality legislation in an outdoor ceremony on the Capital steps this afternoon, Minnesota became the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage as a result of legislative action and not by court order, and it became the twelth state nationally to provide marriage equality. As Gov. Dayton said:

“Progress has often been difficult, controversial and, initially, divisive,” Dayton said. “However, it has always been the next step ahead to fulfilling this country’s promise to every American.”

That next step will take place on August 1 when the new marriage law goes into effect.

Minnesota Says “Yah, Sure! You Betcha!”

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2013

In anticipation of today’s Senate vote, St. Paul Mayor Chris Colman temporarily renamed the Wabash Street Bridge “Freedom to Marry Bridge” for this week, and ordered it decorated with Rainbow flags.

The Minnesota Senate approved HF1054, the marriage equality bill, in a 37-30 vote this afternoon. One Republican — Branden Petersen (Andover) — voted for marriage equality. He was one of the bill’s co-sponsorsin the Senate, and the first Republican legislator to voice his support for the bill despite his district voting to approve the failed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2012. Three DFLers — LeRoy Stumpf (Plummer), Lyle Koenenb (Clara City), Dan Sparks (Austin) — cast their lot on the wrong side of history. The final vote came after the Senate blocked a proposed amendment which would have eviscerated the state’s anti-discrimination laws. That amendment went down in a 25-42 vote.

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced that he will sign the bill during a ceremony tomorrow afternoon. When the bill goes into effect August 1, Minnesota will become the twelfth state, in addition to the District of COlumbia, to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples. It will also be the first Midwestern state to do so solely on a legislative action without a precipitating court order.

Minnesota House Approves Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2013

Opponents and supporters of marriage equality rally outside the House chamber. (Glen Stubbe/Star-Tribune)

Following three hours of debate, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF1054, a bill which grants marriage equality for same-sex couples. The tally had been expected to be close with no Republican support in the DFL-controlled legislature (DFL: Democratic, Farm, Labor, what the Minnesota Democratic party calls itself). But in the end, David FitzSimmons (R-Albertville), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury) and Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) joined seventy-one DFLers to pass the bill with a vote of 75-59. None of the Republicans had declared their support before the debate. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Loon says she decided during the debate. Garofalo and FitzSimmons say an amendment to fortify religious protections was key. Kieffer was unavailable for comment.

The two DFLers against the marriage bill were Patti Fritz of Faribault and Mary Sawatzky of Willmar. Both come from districts that heavily supported a gay marriage ban.

A good chunk of the three hour debate dealt with an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) which would have converted the entire bill into a civil unions bill. That amendment was rejected 22-111. Another amendment proposed by FitzSimmons which added the word “civil” before the word “marriage” wherever it appeared in the Minnesota statutes. That amendment passed on a voice vote, which brought FitzSimmons and Garofalo on board.

Observers had expected that the marriage bill would have had a tougher time passing the House than the Senate. But with that hurdle out of the way, the bill is now expected to be approved by the Senate soon, perhaps as early as Monday. Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The bill would go into effect August 1.

Minnesota is poised to become the twelfth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples. It will also become the first state in the Midwest to do so as the result of a legislature initiative.

Will Minnesota Be Number Twelve?

Jim Burroway

May 8th, 2013

It’s suddenly looking that way. The Minnesota House has called for a vote on a marriage equality bill for tomorow:

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he believes the 73-member DFL majority has the 68 votes needed to pass the bill allowing same-sex couples to wed, even without a single Republican vote.

As of late Tuesday, no GOP House members have said publicly they would vote “yes.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders say they also have the votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill, and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he’ll sign it.

The Senate may vote on the bill as early as this Saturday. One GOP Senator, Branden Petersen (Andover), supports the bill. Some state Republicans, despite their opposition, see marriage equality as inevitable:

“Is it inevitable? I’d say probably,” said Rep. Michael Beard, R-Shakopee. “I mean, marriage is what it is, but they are redefining words and redefining meanings that have been in use for centuries because it is the cause of the week, the flavor of the month.”

The law, if passed, will go into effect August 1.

Minnesota House vote on marriage this Thursday

Timothy Kincaid

May 7th, 2013

From the Pioneer Press

A bill that would legalize gay marriage will get a vote on the Minnesota House floor Thursday, signaling supporters have the votes to pass the legislation.

As House Speaker Paul Thissen has said that he won’t schedule a vote until he is sure of success, this bodes well. The Senate also seems to be a sure thing.

In anticipation of the response I predict Brian Brown of National Organization for (limiting) Marriage will say:

“Minnesota is not a trend. It’s just a blue state. That doesn’t mean anything, I still have Alabama!! I’m going to win. I am. I am. I am. My Cardinal told me so!”

Minnesota DFL representative Rev. Tim Faust cites religious freedom for his position on marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2013

Rev. Tim Faust is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in rural Minnesota. Faust is also the local representative to the Minnesota House. And he’s been one of the DFL (Democratic) reps from a conservative district about which there has been uncertainty as to how he will vote on marriage. His district supported the (failed) anti-gay marriage amendment last year by about 60%.

Now Faust has decided that it is important to consider religious freedom in the upcoming bill: (SeattlePI)

“We have churches that want to bless legal gay marriages. The only way to give them that option is to pass this bill,” Faust said.

So Faust will be siding with religious freedom and supporting equality. I don’t know if Faust’s church will be one that blesses legal gay marriages, but he is affiliated with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and ELCA gives its member churches that choice.

Movement in Minnesota’s marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2013

There’s movement today on the Minnesota marriage bill, but it may be movement sideways. The StarTribune is reporting an impromptu committee hearing:

The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to review the legislation Monday. That’s after a state analysis showed a small impact on Minnesota’s general fund.

The analysis by Minnesota’s budget office predicts that if gay marriage becomes legal, 114 state employees would enroll in state benefits for their married partners. That would cost the state about $688,000 a year. But it would be partly offset by about $190,000 from same-sex couples buying marriage licenses.

Minnesota lawmaker chooses integrity

Timothy Kincaid

May 3rd, 2013

From CBS Minnesota:

A freshman Democratic state representative from a socially conservative district said Friday that he’d support the bill to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota, a key pickup for supporters as votes on the issue get closer at the Capitol.

Rep. Joe Radinovich, of Crosby, had been undecided. He said he decided more than a decade ago that he personally supports letting same-sex couples legally marry, but was conflicted knowing that many residents of his Brainerd-area district are more skeptical.

“This was not an easy decision, but at the end of the day I’d rather protect my integrity than my job,” Radinovich told The Associated Press. The 27-year-old lawmaker won his seat by just 323 votes last fall.

I believe that by the time he runs again, this vote will likely not cost him. However, we can’t know that so he’s showing courage today. And regardless of the outcome, he gets to hold his head high.

GOP Billionaires lobby for equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 28th, 2013

We first became aware of American Unity PAC when a handful of Wall Street financiers who support Republican candidates decided that it was time that marriage equality came to New York State. And it was to a large extent their influence which resulted in the Republican Senate Majority Leader to bring marriage to a vote with enough Republican votes for passage.

Having had success locally, they’ve now decided to export their efforts to other states and to be proactive in lobbying for the cause. (WaPo)

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

I am certain their influence played some role in the five Republican Rhode Island Senators voting for equality and, as the vote in each of these states needs Republican support for passage, I am extremely grateful for their support.

GOP tries unsuccessfully to block Minnesota marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2013

A series of procedural votes suggest that marriage will pass the Minnesota Senate. (PostBulletin)

While the votes were procedural, Republicans portrayed a final floor vote as a functional vote on gay marriage. That motion, which adds the bill to a long list of bills awaiting action on the Senate floor, passed 35-31. One Republican senator joined all but four of the chamber’s Democrats to keep the bill moving.

But it is the argument in opposition that floors me. Having discovered that marriage equality is coming to Minnesota, Senate Republicans have suddenly found a concern over the fiscal impact of marriage.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans produced a document they said shows that authorizing gay marriage could cost the state’s insurance fund over $600,000 a year to provide coverage to spouses of gay state employees. They questioned whether it could also increase court costs or have other ramifications on state spending, and said the bill should be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees spending.

“I think it’s going to cost the state of Minnesota a bunch of money,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. “I think that impact is going to be significant. If I’m wrong, so be it.”

So that’s why they oppose equality. Not because it is gay people we are talking about, but because treating all of the state’s citizens equally would increase the annual state budget by 0.0018 percent.

As a fiscal conservative – and an accountant – this argument is far far more offensive than worries about The Children, or the Traditional Definition of Marriage, or even The End of Civilization As We Know It.

This is an acknowledgment that gay citizens are treated unequally. This is a calculation of the cost to the gay and lesbian citizens of Minnesota that they unfairly pay. And the argument is that although gays and lesbians receive $600,000 less in state services – services freely given to straight state employees but for which gay state employees have to reach in their own pocket – this discrimination should continue because equality would increase the budget by about 1.8 thousands of a percent.

As an argument for tossing the right to a citizen’s self determination out the window, this is about as offensive and stupid as it gets.

The Second Most Powerful Testimony in Favor of Equality (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2013

Timothy presented the most powerful testimony from a hearing held by a Minnesota House Committee. For your consideration, I present the second most powerful testimony from the same venue for our side — which just happens to be Mike Frey testifying for their side.

By the way, a Minnesota Senate committee was also holding hearings today on a bill to provide marriage equality to same-sex couples. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill in a 5-3 party-line vote, and it will now go on to the full Senate. Marriage supporters believed that the Senate committee posed a higher hurdle than the House committee, which is expecte to vote later this evening. Full floor votes will likely be weeks or months away, as legislative leaders vow to press on with budget bills before taking up the measure.

Update: The House Civil Law Committee passed the bill this evening on a 10-7 party-line vote. The bill now advances to the full House, but is not expected to be voted on until much later in the legislative session.

The most powerful testimony in favor of equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 12th, 2013

Today, former GOP Representative Lynne Osterman testified in favor of marriage equality. Her testimony is, in my opinion, the most powerful argument that can be made for why you must do what is right.

If you watch no other testimony on marriage, watch this.

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