Archived Story

Savick supports gay marriage measure

Published 10:55am Monday, May 6, 2013

ST. PAUL — The bill to make same-sex marriage legal in Minnesota is getting a last-minute committee hearing in the Minnesota House, and state Rep. Shannon Savick said she favors equal rights for same-sex partners.

Shannon Savick
Shannon Savick

The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to review the legislation today. That’s after a state analysis showed a small impact on Minnesota’s general fund.

The analysis by Minnesota’s budget office predicts that if gay marriage becomes legal, 114 state employees would enroll in state benefits for their married partners. That would cost the state about $688,000 a year. But it would be partly offset by about $190,000 from same-sex couples buying marriage licenses.

Lawmakers have not formally acted on the gay marriage bill since it passed a pair of committees in March. But a vote in the full House or Senate could happen as early as this week.

Savick said her brother is gay.

“I’ve watched him be discriminated against most of his life,” she said.

The Democrat from Wells represents District 27A, which includes Albert Lea, and she said she knows there are people in the district who disagree with her views on the issue of same-sex marriage.

She said if the bill passes into law, churches would not be obligated to marry partners of the same sex. She said it would be like how many opposite-sex couples get married before a judge, instead of a priest. The bill calls for marriage status in the eyes of the state, not the church.

She said she doesn’t see why people stand against same-sex marriage, because it does not impact them.

“It doesn’t affect my marriage,” Savick said.

Jeanne Poppe
Jeanne Poppe

Should the bill come up for a vote in coming weeks, Savick would vote in favor of it, she said. She expects it to pass the House but is unsure of the Senate. If it does pass both chambers, Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign it.

Savick said DFL leaders in the House have pledged to take care of the state’s budget bills prior to social issues. She noted same-sex marriage is not a party-line issue. It has bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition.

While supporters appear to have the needed votes nailed down in the Senate, the House is less certain. A group of about a dozen rural House Democrats have been reluctant to commit, hailing from districts where voters strongly backed last fall’s failed constitutional gay marriage ban.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe is one such Democrat, as the Austin representative has yet to publicly announce which way she’ll vote on the issue. Poppe said Friday she has yet to decide which way she’ll vote, but may support the measure based on the same-sex marriage bill’s economic impact.

Poppe said she was putting aside the emotional connotations involved in same-sex marriage, instead looking at whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers would want to stay in the state, let alone Greater Minnesota cities, if same-sex marriage was not passed and LGBT workers couldn’t share pensions, insurance and other benefits with their partners.

“If there’s an appearance, an expectation that we’re not going to be able to accommodate people who are LGBT, I think we need to consider that,” Poppe said. “We need to think about what this will do economically for us.”

A similar bill to authorize civil unions in Minnesota has floated around the Capitol with considerably less traction. Poppe said that bill wasn’t as complete in its approach to the issue as Dibble’s proposal.