Fall ballot results no predictor of Minnesota House marriage voteA quarter of Minnesota House members wound up voting for their personal preference on legalizing gay marriage rather than following their district's results of last November’s ballot measure to ban it.
By: Brian Bakst, Associated Press
ST. PAUL — A quarter of Minnesota House members wound up voting for their personal preference on legalizing gay marriage rather than following results of last November’s ballot measure to ban it.
Thursday’s 75-59 vote in favor of a bill to permit same-sex marriage saw Republicans and Democrats defy the outcome on the constitutional amendment in their district.
Eighteen Republicans from districts where a majority of voters opposed barring gay marriage voted to keep marriage as exclusively for one man and one woman. Of all the House Republicans who voted against same-sex marriage, Plymouth Rep. Sarah Anderson represents the district with the highest margin against the amendment to prevent gay marriage: Her constituents opposed it by 59 percent to 41 percent.
Anderson said Friday that her constituents want her to focus foremost on the state budget. She pointed to a fiscal analysis that showed gay marriage would add to government costs through higher health insurance obligations for dependents of state employees.
“We don’t know the fiscal impact it will have to our cities, counties, and schools which affects property taxes,” she said.
Gay marriage opponents say a “no” vote on the constitutional
amendment wasn’t necessarily endorsement of legalization.
The reverse was true because a “yes” vote last fall was in favor of putting an existing statutory ban on gay marriage into the constitution, a move that proponents hoped would head off any court rulings to strike down the state law.
The amendment lost statewide by a 52-47 margin, but it was the preference in several parts of the state.
Fifteen Democrats bucked the home tide by supporting gay marriage despite representing districts that clearly opposed it. Murdock Rep. Andrew Falk had the starkest difference between his vote Thursday and his district’s vote last fall; nearly two-thirds of voters in his districts wanted the ban on gay marriage.
In a floor speech Thursday, Falk reflected on marrying his wife last year, solidifying a relationship rooted in love, happiness and commitment.
“There’s no way in good conscience I could deny those exact same rights to my fellow Minnesotans,” he said.
Minnesota’s Senate is scheduled to start its debate on the bill to legalize gay marriage on Monday at noon, and similar mismatches are expected to occur.
A Senate DFL spokesman announced the plans Friday. The Senate is the final legislative hurdle for the bill, and its passage there would send the bill to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.
Dayton said he will sign the bill. It would make gay marriage legal in the state starting Aug. 1.