Republican Lawmaker Cosponsors Minnesota Marriage Equality Bill

Minnesota Sen. Branden Petersen (R) and his kids.

As Minnesota state lawmakers prepare to introduce marriage equality legislation, Republican Sen. Branden Petersen has announced he will be a co-sponsor. Though he voted for the amendment banning same-sex marriage two years ago, Petersen now believes supporting same-sex marriage is the “right thing” to do:

PETERSON: At this point, I am concerned about doing the right thing. I have a certain amount of peace about that, and I will let the chips fall where they may. It’s only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal. I thought it was important to engage the issue now, and when we do it, do it right, and that there’s some perspective from the people I represent in that. I know there are other Republicans who are very interested in supporting same-sex marriage.

Petersen explained that his father-in-law has been in a same-sex relationship for 20 years, and he doesn’t want the issue to divide the state the way it has divided his family. He does have a few amendments he wants to propose to the bill, but none seem to weaken its guarantee of equality. Among his concerns is making sure religious leaders can choose not to wed same-sex couples, a provision that most same-sex marriage bills have included. He also wants to make sure the kids in same-sex marriages have the same financial guarantees in the event of a divorce as the children of opposite-sex couples.

Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL), the bill’s sponsor, sees no problem with any of Petersen’s recommendations. He believes having a Republican co-sponsor is “awesome” and may inspire other members of the GOP to add their support.