Minn. GOP lawmaker says he’ll push civil unions as alternative to gay marriage

Tim Kelly

Tim Kelly

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Republican state lawmaker is introducing a bill to establish civil unions for Minnesota gay couples as an alternative to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Republican Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing, Minn., planned to unveil his proposal at a Wednesday press conference at the Capitol. He said his bill has support from lawmakers in both parties.

Tim Kelly

Kelly was one of four Republicans who voted against the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage when the Legislature put it on the ballot in 2011.

But he has said that gay marriage supporters overreached when they turned from defeating the constitutional ban to pushing for legal gay marriage, arguing that opposition to putting the ban in the constitution didn’t necessarily equate to supporting gay marriage.

But Sen. Scott Dibble, chief author of the gay marriage bill, said civil unions are insufficient. “Civil unions are a separate and unequal status,” he said.

The Minneapolis Democrat said civil unions would be a “legal construct” specific to Minnesota that couldn’t be recognized outside Minnesota or give them access to federal rights and benefits related to marriage, particularly if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal Defense of Marriage Act as its currently considering.

“We’re moving forward with marriage this year,” Dibble said. “The time is right.”

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