Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Calling all supporters of marriage equality . . .

The Time for Action is Now!

Yesterday, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate introduced three bills that aim to put a constitutional amendment before voters in 2012 defining marriage in Minnesota as only between a man and a woman, thus banning marriage for same-sex couples.

If passed by a simple majority of those voting in the 2012 election, this amendment would write discrimination into the Minnesota Constitution, and perpetuate such laws as the following five current Minnesota Statues – along with 510 other statues – that deny same-sex persons in long-term committed relationships those rights automatically guaranteed by state law to married heterosexual couples.

· The same-sex partner of a patient in a hospital is not included at all on the list of people who may provide consent for treatment if the patient were unable to give his or her own consent. In some cases, same-sex partners might not even be allowed to visit a partner in the hospital, even with legal paperwork describing the couple's wishes. (Minn. Statutes, Section 253B.03)

· Important events in the family of the same-sex partner of a child's parent, such as family emergencies or the death or serious illness or funeral of an immediate family member, might not qualify as a legitimate exemption from school absence. (Section 120A.22)

· A surviving same-sex partner cannot inherit any of the deceased partner's estate if his or her partner dies without a will. (Section 524.2-102)

· The coroner is not allowed to release to a same-sex partner personal items – such as clothes and other personal property of limited value – routinely given to the spouse or any blood relative of the person who has died. (Section 525.393)

· A long-term same-sex partner is not allowed to receive workers' compensation benefits if their spouse is killed at work. (Section 176.111)
– Source: Project 515

Positive public opinion about LGBT persons and their civil marriage rights is rapidly increasing, but enshrining this discriminatory approach to marriage in the state constitution would make future legislation guaranteeing the legal equality of same-sex couples very difficult, if not impossible. Further, if this amendment becomes part of the Minnesota Constitution, future challenges in the courts would be very difficult.

Since this bill is a ballot initiative, Gov. Mark Dayton will be unable to veto it should it pass both chambers of the Legislature, which appears highly probable since both are controlled by Republicans.

The proposed constitutional amendment will get quick consideration during the final month of the session. The House and Senate authors said they expect initial committee hearings later this week. Floor votes could come anytime before the scheduled adjournment of May 23.

As evidenced last year by their multi-million dollar anti-gay marriage campaign, the Minnesota Catholic bishops are powerful and influential players in the efforts to deny civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Now is the time for action!

Join us on
Monday, May 2, 2011
for an educational and organizing event

A Catholic Case in Support of
Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Murzyn Hall
530 Mill Street NE,
Columbia Heights, MN
(For directions & link to map, click here)

Soup Supper
6:00-6:30 p.m.
($5 suggested offering)

Presentation and Organizing
6:30-9:00 p.m.

Join us as we hear three speakers discuss the legal, psycho-social, and theological meaning and implications of same-sex marriage, and the reasons for opposing the proposed "marriage amendment."

Inspired by the experiences and insights shared by these speakers, we'll discuss, strategize and launch a Catholic Campaign for Marriage Equality!

This campaign aims to:

1) Oppose (in a respectful and informed way) the proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples.
2) Advocate for marriage equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.
3) Challenge the bishops' anti-gay marriage efforts and let Minnesota legislators and voters know that the bishops do not speak for the majority of Catholics on this issue.

Work on this campaign has already begun, but we need your presence and participation on May 2 and your commitment to ongoing action beyond May 2, to make this campaign a success.

Featured Speakers

Candace Mainville, MA

Candace has worked as a Hennepin County social worker for 15 years. For the last 13 years, she has licensed and trained foster and adoptive parents. Candace has a passion for creating safe and supportive parenting for gay, lesbian and transgender identified youth.

She will speak from her professional experience and with references from psycho-social scientific studies about the qualifications and competencies of same-sex couples raising children as compared with opposite-sex couples. She will also share her professional perceptions of, and knowledge of social science research about, the psycho-social adjustment of children raised by gay and lesbian parents in comparison with those raised by opposite-sex parents.

Phil Duran, JD

Phil has served as OutFront Minnesota's Legal Director since 2000. His prior experience includes work with the Minnesota AIDS Project, and the Chicago office of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Phil holds his law degree from the University of Minnesota and his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University.

Phil has also served on the board of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission. He is currently the Secretary of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He received a Community Service Award in 1997 from the Human Rights Campaign for his work in his native Michigan.

Phil will share the legal implications and potential impact on LGBT families of any constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and, potentially, all legal equivalents.

Michael Bayly, MA

Michael has served as Executive Coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) since 2003. He is also currently co-chair of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, co-convener of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, and editor-in-chief of The Progressive Catholic Voice.

His 2007 book Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective has been described as a "courageous document," a "valiant effort," and a "useful, essential, and comprehensive manual." The Vatican chose to denounce it, however, for its questioning of church teaching on homosexuality.

Michael holds a Masters of Arts in Theology from St. Catherine University (1996) and a Masters of Arts in Theology and the Arts from United Theological Seminary (2003).

He will speak on how we can support same-sex marriage from an alternative philosophical/theological perspective to that promulgated by the Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops.

For more information, call 612-201-4534

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