Minnesota’s active and vibrant GLBT community continues to make national headlines in 2010. From the story of a lesbian pastor finally being permitted to serve her flock to the controversial legal challenge to Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage Act, GLBT Minnesotans are at the forefront of civic participation and community involvement. Here are five of the most fascinating stories from across the state affecting our community.
Minnesota Marriage Challenge
Three gay couples in Minnesota are suing to overturn the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriage. The couples, part of a group called Marry Me Minnesota, argue that the act violates the state constitution’s single subject rule, which prohibits laws from being passed that include more than one subject. It was enacted in 1997 as part of wider legislation. The couples also are seeking a court order to compel the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some in the GLBT community question the timing of the legal challenge, but Marry Me Minnesota says the couples can’t afford to wait: “We don’t want to wait five years, ten years, twenty years to see equality for same-gender couples in Minnesota. Many of us cannot afford to wait that long.”
Lutheran Church Recognizes Lesbian Pastor
Almost a year after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted to permit openly gay clergy in committed relationships to serve, Reverend Mary Albing of Minneapolis in May became perhaps the first lesbian pastor to be recognized. She has been Pastor of Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer in South Minneapolis for the past seven years, but was not recognized formally by the church hierarchy until now. Albing told reporters, “In many ways, this isn’t a day about me. It’s a day about a congregation that has spent 30 years very intentionally preparing to welcome people of all kinds.”
Antigay Ads Arrive in Minnesota
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), well-known for its 2009 “Gathering Storm” ads attacking same-sex marriage, is spending $200,000 on TV ads in Minnesota. The organization sees Minnesota as “the next key battleground state in the fight to preserve marriage in America.” The ads attack four of the candidates for Minnesota Governor, saying, “leading DFL and Independence candidates for Governor support homosexual marriage.” NOM President Brian Brown stated in a news release that the ad campaign was “just the beginning of our efforts to expose the Minnesota politicians who won’t let the people vote on the future of marriage.”
Governor Pawlenty Vetoes Gay-Rights Bill
In May, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would have granted gay couples the right to decide what to do with their bodies when they die. He said he vetoed the so-called “Final Wishes” bill because it was unnecessary, arguing gay couples simply can draw up a living will. Advocates for the bill argue that a living will costs money, and that heterosexual married couples aren’t required to have one.
Minnesotans Marrying in Iowa
While Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage Act is challenged in court, gay and lesbian couples still can cross the Iowa border to get married. Since legalization in 2009, more than 2,000 gay marriages have been performed in Iowa, accounting for roughly 10 percent of all marriages in the state during the same time period. Of the same-sex marriages, 60 percent were out-of-state residents, mostly from Illinois, Missouri, and Nebraska. Only 109 couples came from Minnesota, and 71 percent of them were lesbian.