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Press release from Senator John Marty: Senator John Marty presented SF 120, his LGBT Marriage Equality legislation, to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening. Here is his statement on the need for the legislation and it’s prospects for passage: “Two years ago, Doug Benson, a man who has come to the Minnesota capitol regularly seeking the ability to marry his life partner, asked if I would author legislation to provide marriage equality rights for his family and other LGBT families. I agreed to do so, and introduced the Marriage Equality legislation, even though many people argued that this legislation would stand no chance in Minnesota. At the time, the struggle looked monumental. There was strong opposition to gay marriage back in 2003 and 2004, but much of that opposition was based on fear and misunderstanding. Same-sex marriage was a concept that most Minnesotans were not familiar with. However, Minnesotans are fair-minded, and willing to listen. As more LGBT people have come out of the closet, the public is getting to know wonderful gay and lesbian families. Minnesotans are becoming aware that LGBT folks are hard-working people who go to work, attend church, and are good neighbors. Many are parents and they are active in their children’s Little League and the PTA. Like other families, they take care of each other, especially when someone is sick or hurting. As Minnesotans learn about the issue, it becomes obvious that none of the vocal opponents has ever presented a single cogent argument how a marriage between two women hurts anyone elses marriage. Likewise, people can see that a marriage between Doug and Duane does not affect their own, any more than my thirty-year marriage to Connie has an impact on other marriages. I appreciate this hearing, because through conversations and discussions like this, Minnesota values come to the forefront. As a result, more and more people are rejecting discrimination against same-sex families. Times are changing. Minnesota lesbian and gay families deserve the same rights that other families have. They deserve the right to have each other and their children qualify for the health care benefits they get at work. They deserve the right to visit each other in the hospital, the right to inherit each others property, and hundreds of other rights that most families take for granted. This year, the discrimination faced by LGBT families hits particularly hard as they, like all families, struggle in this deep recession. Fortunately, through the educational work and outreach of groups like OutFront Minnesota, Marriage Equality Minnesota, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Rainbow Families, and Project 515, attitudes are changing by the month. The promise of marriage equality for all Minnesota families is within reach. Doug and Duane, and thousands of other same-sex couples have waited too long. I believe that we can pass marriage equality legislation and sign it into law next year.” Note: The Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the LGBT Marriage Equality issue, but deferred action on the legislation.