ST. PAUL, Minn. — Just hours after a marriage equality bill was unveiled at the Minnesota state capitol, a group of Republican lawmakers are calling for its defeat.
Backers of the marriage equality bill said last fall’s defeat of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage shows the state of Minnesota is ready to legalize same-sex marriage.
About 15 GOP lawmakers gathered for a press conference Wednesday to denounce the bill.
State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen said that homosexuality was a choice and that they should not be rewarded with the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. “The concept you are born that way is an unscientific lie.”
Referencing a decade-old genome study, Gruenhagen added: “There is no gay gene. The concept that there is a gay gene is an unscientific lie.”
State Sen. Dan Hall, a pastor, said he’d go to jail before presiding over a gay wedding ceremony.
The bill has an exemption that no church would be forced to perform or solemnize a same-sex union.
Earlier in the day, Democratic lawmakers formally launched a long-anticipated effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota by summer.
Article continues belowThe bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat who married his partner in California four years ago, said that the bill’s simple aim is: “To allow folks who so desire who have demonstrated the lifetime of love and commitment to get married, even if they are a same sex couple.”
Dibble said he doesn’t know if he has the votes to pass the measure in the Democratic-led Legislature.
“I think we’re close. I don’t know if we’re there,” he said.
Republican Sen. Branden Petersen is the only member of his party to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill. Gov. Mark Dayton says he would sign the bill if it reaches him.