Same-Sex Marriage FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Minnesota's New Same-Sex Marriage Law

On May 14, 2013 Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights answers your questions regarding the rights of couples wishing to get married when the new law goes into effect on August 1, 2013.

Are religious organizations required to marry individuals of the same-sex?

No. The legislature sought to ensure this new legislation would not unconstitutionally infringe upon the rights of religious entities. Therefore, religious entities can, consistent with their theological doctrine, policy and teachings, perform same-sex marriages. However, the new law does not compel legal religious entities to perform same-sex marriages.

What are the exemptions for religious entities?

The new law provides specific exemptions for religious entities from taking part in the solemnization of same-sex marriages. Therefore, a religious entity may choose not to marry a same sex couple as it has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, policy, teachings and beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith.

Are other organizations exempt from the law?

No. 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 who is planning a wedding based on their sexual orientation. To do so would violate protections for sexual orientation laid out in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The individuals denied services could file a claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights against the entity that discriminated against them.

Can a business owner refuse to provide services to me for my same-sex wedding?

No. 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 under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. A business that provides wedding services such as cake decorating, wedding planning or services may not deny its services to a same-sex couple. Individuals denied any of the above services can file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

How do I file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights?

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/.

How will the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional effect Minnesota same-sex couples who become married?

Although the details are yet to be worked out by Congress and the Executive Branch, same sex-marriages in Minnesota will be recognized under federal law in the same manner as opposite sex marriages, and same-sex married couples should have the same rights under state and federal law as opposite sex married couples.

How will same-sex married couples in Minnesota be treated for state and federal tax purposes?

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights' jurisdiction does not cover tax issues. The Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Minnesota Department of Revenue have issued guidance on federal and state tax treatment for same-sex marriage couples.