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      Happy Pride Month: MDHR Offers Toolkit on Minnesota's New Same Sex Marriage Law

      Posted on June 30, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      Happy Pride MonthOn May 14, 2013, Governor Dayton signed into law House File 1054/Senate File 925, granting all Minnesotans the freedom to marry.  This week, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights released a toolkit on how Minnesota’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage impacts people, communities, businesses and religious entities.
       
      Beginning August 1, two individuals of the same gender can become lawfully wed in Minnesota. “This is a milestone for equal rights for all Minnesotans,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “Minnesota’s same-sex marriage law seeks to strike a delicate balance in recognizing individual liberty while respecting the Nation’s long standing tradition of separating church and state.”

      Governor Dayton issued a proclamation, officially declaring that June 2013 is Pride Month in the State of Minnesota. Residents and visitors are encouraged to participate in the numerous Pride Month activities across Minnesota, and support the ongoing efforts leading Minnesota toward full LGBT equality.
       

      During the debate of the bill, the legislature sought to ensure that the legislation would not unconstitutionally infringe upon the rights of religious entities. Religious entities can, therefore consistent with their theological doctrine, policy and teachings, perform same-sex marriages. The new law does not compel legal religious entities to perform same-sex marriages.
       
      However, the law does not exempt individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or the secular business activities of religious entities from non-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage. Therefore, a business that provides wedding services such as cake decorating, wedding planning or catering services may not deny services to a same-sex couple based on their sexual orientation.
       
      Minnesota has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, since 1993. “Nothing has changed,” Commissioner Lindsey said. “Denying commercial activity or refusing to enter into a commercial contract with someone on the basis of their sexual orientation has been against the law in Minnesota for 20 years.”

      The Department of Human Rights’ toolkit offers guidance to businesses, religious organizations and individuals on the effect of the new law, and the protections for sexual orientation under the MHRA at MDHR’s website:

       
      The Department will update this information and provide guidance as necessary, including information on the U.S. Supreme Court's DOMA decision and its impact on same-sex Minnesota couples who choose to marry.
       
      If you believe you have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation or another protected class you can contact MDHR’s enforcement unit at: 651.539.1100 or online at mn.gov/mdhr/intake.
       
      For more information about same-sex marriage in Minnesota, visit mn.gov/mdhr or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights.