Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2013

MDHR Offers Toolkit on Minnesota's New Same Sex Marriage Law

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Human Rights released a toolkit today 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."

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.

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For more information contact: Jeff Holman at 651.539.1090 or Jeff.holman@state.mn.us

Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Communications Department Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155 mn.gov/mdhr, MDHR YouTube channel

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