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Governor Dayton Signs Historic Freedom to Marry Law in Minnesota

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Categories: Human Rights

Today, Governor Mark Dayton, joined by Representative Karen Clark, Senator Scott Dibble, Senator Tom Bakk, Representative Paul Thissen, and thousands of supporters, signed HF 1054/SF 925 into law, granting all Minnesotans the freedom to marry.

Governor Dayton's Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

What a difference a year and an election make in Minnesota! Last year, there were concerns that marriage equality would be banned forever. Now, my signature will make it legal in two and one-half months.

First and foremost, I want to thank the people of Minnesota, who voted last year to defeat a very destructive Constitutional Amendment, and also to elect courageous legislators, who would support this monumental social advance.

I want to thank the activists, all of you here tonight and the thousands more throughout our state, who worked so long and so hard to win this extraordinary victory.  

At the risk of leaving out many deserving leaders, special recognition should go to Richard Carlbom, who brilliantly masterminded last year’s and this year’s campaigns.

Congratulations to the chief authors, Representative Karen Clark and Senator Scott Dibble, who shepherded this bill along an often difficult path – and who have now succeeded, to the amazement of some and the delight of many.  

Thank you to the House and Senate leaders: Speaker Paul Thissen, Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Majority Leader Erin Murphy, and Asst. Majority Leader Katie Sieben for supporting and guiding this legislation.  

And I want to express my utmost admiration to the Republican and Democratic legislators, who voted for this bill. Many of them are standing behind me, and they deserve to hear our gratitude.  

Last week, I suggested that you legislators read John F. Kennedy’s book: Profiles in Courage. Instead, you wrote its latest chapter.  

By your political courage, you join that pantheon of exceptional leaders, who did something extraordinary – you changed the course of history for our state and our nation.

Our country’s founding principle was stated 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That principle was later embodied in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Unfortunately, our nation’s founding fathers had bold aspirations, but a bad implementation. They wrongly denied those equal rights and protections to women, African-Americans, and other racial minorities.  

They also left out GLBT men and women, if you believe, as I do, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness certainly include the right to marry the person you love.

Since then, our country’s most important progress has been to extend those equal rights and protections to everyone. That progress has often been difficult, controversial, and initially divisive. However, it has always been the next step ahead to fulfilling this country’s promise to every American.

It is now my honor to sign into law this next step for the State of Minnesota to fulfill its promise to every Minnesotan.


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Jesson addresses ‘Together, We Work’ conference on employment for people with disabilities

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Categories: Human Rights

Commissioner Jesson Speaking

Commissioner Jesson Speaking at "Together, We Work" Conference

Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson spoke Dec. 5 k at “Together, We Work,” the first conference hosted by Minnesota APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) and Pathways to Employment.

The two-day event brought together people with disabilities, employers, supported employment service providers and advocates to make connections and discover ways to increase employment opportunities even in times of scarce resources.


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"Circles of Support" Make Transitioning to Independent Living Easier For Minnesotans With Disabilities

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Categories: Health, Human Rights

New partnerships are making a home of their own possible for hundreds of Minnesota citizens with disabilities- as over 500 people since 2009 have said welcome home to the new possibilities of independent living. 

These new possibilities have been created through the Housing Access Services (HAS), which is a partnership of The Arc of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For many adults with disabilities, living at home or living in a group home is no longer the right fit. They desire the same independent lifestyles that many take for granted. HAS helps adults with disabilities navigate many of the logistical problems with reaching independence, such as finding housing, filling out paperwork and financial documents, moving in, and finding access to jobs and transportation.


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Get the Facts on Predatory Lending

Posted on July 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Categories: Commerce, Education, Human Rights

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Photo credit: Flickr user Taber Andrew Bain

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is working with U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison to stop predatory lending. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Congressman Ellison are holding a special Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending on August 8 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Neighborhood Hub in North Minneapolis. Commissioner Rothman and Congressman Ellison want to hear your stories about how predatory lending and foreclosure have affected your community so we can stop these destructive practices. All residents of North Minneapolis are invited to attend.

Predatory lending often targets low-income consumers, causing financial hardship in Minnesota neighborhoods. Scam artists and predatory lenders take advantage of consumers from all walks of life, causing foreclosures and financial hardship in our communities. In recent years, foreclosure and loan modification scams have severely harmed North Minneapolis neighborhoods.

According to the Department of Commerce, nearly 136,000 Minnesota homes have gone into foreclosure in the last seven years. That adds up to almost $13 billion in home equity lost in Minnesota alone since 2005. If your neighbor or someone down the street goes into foreclosure, the average loss in value to your home is roughly $8,500.


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Partners in Policymaking: Celebrating 25 Years Advocating for Disability Rights

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Human Rights, Jobs

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Governor Dayton speaks at the 2012 Disabilities Day Rally in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda.

The Partners in Policymaking Program recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary, marking a quarter century of advocacy, education, and inspiration for people with developmental disabilities and their families.  

Since 1987, the program – led by the Department of Administration’s Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), has provided leadership training for parents of children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities.  By helping these individuals self-advocate and form relationships with elected officials and policymakers, the program empowers them to positively shape the policies and services that impact their lives.


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Reversed cuts a victory for Minnesota’s disabled

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Health, Reform, Jobs, Human Rights

In a recent editorial for Access Press, a Minnesota disability news outlet, Steve Larson, senior public policy director for The Arc Minnesota commended state leaders for their work to reverse a number of funding cuts to Minnesota Health and Human Services (HHS).

These reversals delayed cuts to the wages of personal care attendants and disability service providers until the next legislative session and reduced the cut to community services for 2,600 Minnesotans with disabilities by half. ” Disability advocates will need to fight again next session to make these reversals permanent,” says Larson.

The issues of funding to key Health and Human Services sectors were first highlighted by Governor Dayton in his 2012-2013 supplemental budget proposal, and were ultimately addressed with his signing of the HHS omnibus budget bill, a bipartisan effort which restored roughly $18 million in funding lost during the 2011 budget compromise. This new spending was offset by savings to the state from a 1 percent cap on health plan profits negotiated by the Dayton Administration which resulted in the return of $73 million to state and federal taxpayers .


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Financial Literacy Month: Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Categories: Human Rights, Commerce, Seniors

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Scam artists and predatory lenders take advantage of consumers from all walks of life, causing foreclosures and financial hardship in Minnesota communities. Knowledge is often the foundation of financially secure communities and a consumer’s best defense against the pitfalls of predatory lending.

As Financial Literacy Month continues, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Housing Finance Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, and Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey hosted a town hall forum at Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center on Wednesday to discuss the adverse financial and community impacts of predatory lending in Minnesota and the steps Minnesotans can take to protect themselves from predatory lending practices.

The forum began with a panel discussion led by Commissioners Lindsey, Rothman, and Tingerthal regarding recent trends in predatory lending, the state’s role in protecting Minnesota consumers and communities from predatory lending, and the resources available to victims of predatory lending through Minnesota’s state agencies. Following the panel discussion, community members and advocates shared their personal stories about how predatory lending has affected their families, finances, and communities. 

As financial products become more complex and scammers become more savvy, the need for on-going collaboration between the Commerce, Housing Finance, and Human Rights Departments resonated with both the panel and attendees.  Continued outreach efforts to educate Minnesotans, including our immigrant communities and neighborhoods that have been adversely impacted by these predatory practices, underscore the need for financial literacy.  Knowledge is the best defense against fraud and financial abuse.


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Commissioner Cassellius Reflects on Black History Month

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Categories: Education, Human Rights

brenda_cassellius.jpgAs Minnesota’s first African American Commissioner of Education, I am responsible for policies that impact the lives and education of nearly a million Minnesota children.  I come to this task with a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity to influence an area I care so deeply about.  I also come with a deep sense of humility, and the knowledge that I stand on the shoulders of many who have come before me, including my own parents and my grandfather. 

I grew up poor, but I never felt a poverty of love.  My mother, just sixteen when she had my sister and only a few years older when I came along, never graduated from high school. Though she struggled at times, she was our greatest advocate.  She was also was a firm believer in the notion that it truly does take a village to raise a child.  So I was a Head Start baby. I was involved in community programs and I loved going to, and later serving as a youth counselor at summer camp.  Each of these experiences opened the door to a world of possibilities.   My father, also a consistent presence in my life even though he and my mother were not always together, reinforced the notion that education was my ticket to a better life.  He would tell me I could either continue the cycle of poverty into which I was born, or could choose to continue my education and break the cycle. He told me “This is America.  You can be anything or anybody you want to be. You might have to work harder than most folks, but if you’re willing, the future is yours to determine.”

As true as those words were for me, they were not, and are not, always true for everyone.  Any forward progress that African Americans have achieved has been hard won through the heroic efforts of many, including my own grandfather, Melvin Alston.  He played a key role in the relationship between race and public education years before Brown v. Board of Education changed the course of history in the United States. 


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Commissioner Lindsey Reflects on Black History Month

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:42 AM
Categories: Human Rights

kevin_lindsey.jpgAs Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, I’m responsible for ensuring that the Department promptly investigates charges of discrimination and ensures that every person in Minnesota has the ability to enjoy all of the benefits of society regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation, familial status, and public assistance status.

When I reflect on Black History Month, I’m always left with this indelible impression of just how much blacks love the United States and how hard blacks have struggled to help the country live up to the highest ideals expressed in the United States Constitution.

Blacks have spilled their blood for freedom, equality, opportunity and justice throughout the rich history of our country.

One doesn’t need to look long to find stories of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre , the 54th Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts that fought in the Civil War, the exploits of the 93rd Infantry during World War I, or most recently brought to the big screen, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is, “Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it.”


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