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Home / News / Rep. Kelly: New civil unions bill would remove word ‘marriage’ from law
Kelly’s previous bill, which got a cold reception from gay marriage advocates earlier this month, added civil unions alongside any instance of the word marriage in state statute. His new proposal would eliminate marriage from the lawbooks and and enshrine civil unions in its place

Rep. Kelly: New civil unions bill would remove word ‘marriage’ from law

Rep. Tim Kelly

Republican Rep. Tim Kelly wants to eliminate the word “marriage”  from the state’s lawbooks.

Kelly is revamping his proposal to allow civil unions in the state, which previously inserted “civil unions” alongside any instance of the word “marriage”  in state statute. The bill got a cold reception from gay marriage advocates earlier this month, but his new bill would eliminate “marriage” from lawbooks and enshrine “civil unions” in its place.

“The arguments [from critics] have been that I’ve created a separate but equal definition,” Kelly said. “Over the last week and a half, that has been the only real kickback. People said, ‘We understand what you are trying to do, but what you haven’t done is you don’t call it the same thing.’ By removing marriage from statute we have the same rights for everyone.”

Kelly said he hopes the new bill will get more support from legislators on both sides of the aisle, and he deflected criticisms that his proposal is intended to derail an effort to legalize gay marriage. Bills to legalize gay marriage have passed committees in both the House and Senate and are awaiting likely late-session floor votes.

“This is not effort to beat gay marriage like some suggested the last civil union bill was about, and hopefully when I bring this out, that will be very, very clear,” Kelly said. “My intention all along was to absolutely grant the rights to the people who have been discriminated against.”

Kelly was joined by Republican Reps. Pat Garofalo, Andrea Kieffer and Denny McNamara in rolling out his original bill, and Rochester DFL Rep. Kim Norton signed on as a co-sponsor. At least one Democrat is interested in Kelly’s new approach: Rep. Tim Faust, DFL-Hinckley, said he is considering supporting the proposal.

“In one way I believe that’s actually protecting marriage,” Kelly said. “Because if you remove it from statute, you get it back to its base and religious foundation, then we’ve protected everyone’s individual right to believe marriage is whatever they want it to be, and that way we can focus on the absolute individual rights of these same-sex partners.”

Kelly says his new proposal should be rolled out in the next few days. He will seek a hearing for the bill in the House Civil Law Committee.


  1. Because no one should be allowed to redefine marriage unless everyone is allowed to redefine marriage.

  2. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui

    Same-sex marriage is an injustice, an insult to the noble faculty of reason, and an absolute mockery of: the Laws of Nature, civil society, and the preservation and perfection of mankind.

    The broken families which same-sex marriages purposely create are necessarily vicious toward those naturally occurring consanguineous obligations between family members from which nations, sociability, and benevolence have naturally emanated.

    Children are not pets one purchases from rescue shelters(adoption clinics) and puppy mills(insemination and surrogacy). Children are human beings endowed with a natural desire to be procreated from an engendered act of love between a husband and a wife. Same-sex marriage is adulterous by nature and thereby destructive to not only children, but to our civilization.

    Same-sex marriage proponents demand “Marriage Equality”, yet, in return, they offer less-than-equal protection of the child’s happiness than can be afforded by the presence of both biological parents.

    Same-sex proponents profess that it is love which gives the right to join the institution of marriage, yet, in doing so, they selfishly violate the principle loving objective of this noble institution; to protect a child’s Natural Right to be raised by both biological parents.

    Same-sex marriage is not justice in the eyes of a child. Same-sex marriage is an abuse of power, a tyrannical subversion of the fundamental principles of marriage and the duties which it enjoins; contrary to the nature and state of man, same-sex marriage is merely the unwarranted whims of an ignorant and selfish generation whose conduct is nothing less that an embarrassment to the dignity of mankind.

    Here are two truths regarding marriage: (1) A man creating a family with another man is not equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

    In fine, same-sex marriage is an unnatural extravagance which the supporters most ignorantly claim to be a “right”.

    “No one has a right to do that which, if everybody did it, would destroy society.” —Immanuel Kant

  3. So under Rep. Kelly’s law, how would Minnesotans be regarded in other states? And would Minnesotans under his law have access to the federal rights and responsibilities set aside for marriage? Because there are 1000 of them (literally). If DOMA is overturned, GLBT people who can get married would have access to those. What would happen to an entire state that suddenly can’t get married, but are instead civilly unioned? Would they have federal marriage rights? And how would those rights translate to other states? Would a civil union in MN be recognized as a legal marriage elsewhere? Or, if a couple moved from MN to a state where there were separate rights for marriage and civil unions (Wisconsin, for example), would the straight couples maintain their rights but have the GLBT couples lose theirs?

    I understand what Rep. Kelly is trying to do. But he still hasn’t closed about a million loopholes for GLBT citizens that would relegate us to the back of the bus. Disappointing that he is insistent on dividing instead of working to ensure equal treatment for all of Minnesota’s citizens.

  4. p.s. It should also be noted that while, yes, marriage has been recognized as a religious tradition, historically, it has been as much about property transfer and peace treaties as it has been part of a religious sacrament. To say that is has been solely religious is not historically accurate.

  5. Jean-Jacques, I see you’re mad at work with the copy and pasting again.

    This bill wouldn’t legalize same sex marriage. It would leave marriage outside of the realms of government and leave marriage only to the churches. Everybody, same or opposite sex, would have a civil union under the terms of the state. Churches would have the right to define marriage as they see fit.

    It’s meant to disjoin church from state, end the government takeover of the word marriage and leave the definition of marriage up to the churches. All and all it’s an equitable situation, if they can work out the details of interstate and federal recognition.

  6. I appreciate Rep. Kelly’s work on this matter. It does a good job of separating church and state in MN. As to what other states do regarding same sex unions. That is up to them. Rep. Kelly works for MN.
    Joe Carlin is correct in his description of how this would work.
    Had a proposal for Civil Union been on the ballot last fall I’m sure it would have passed with overwhelming support.
    This proposal gives equal treatment under the law. Government can regulate law. It cannot regulate matters of Faith. The word “Marriage” has been defined for centuries. One man and one woman. It is a matter of Faith to the Christian and other faiths. We resent the attempt to re-define what we hold sacred.
    Who is trying to re-define the meaning? Are they people of faith? Isn’t forcing religious groups to accept a new definition of marriage is like asking us to turn our back on God’s word.
    Rep. Kelly’s proposal removes the subject from a religious standpoint. Thanks, Tim

  7. This isn’t necessarily a terrible idea if we’re just looking at MN. But there is a real, and serious legal issue to consider, which is what those couples would be considered outside of MN. I don’t believe they would be eligible for any federal benefits that are tied to marriage, nor would other states be obligated to recognize their legal relationship.

  8. I think they should go the civil union route, myself. It’s more likely to pass, and the Democrats need to get over their all-or-none approach.

  9. It is time for us to have human rights for everyone. Civil Unions do not do that.

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