Minnesota state Representative David FitzSimmons (R-Albertville) will propose changing all references to "marriage" in state law to "civil marriage," according to media reports. He will propose the change as an amendment to the same-sex marriage bill set to hit the House floor Thursday.
"What this does with placing 'civil' in front of 'marriage' is that it only highlights again that this is not talking about is necessarily the marriage that's takes place in your church or synagogue," Fitzsimmons told MPR. "This bill is about the civil aspects and the government relations aspects of marriage."
Fitzsimmons' change has the support of Minnesotans United, the main organization advocating for same-sex marriage, the Star Tribune reported, and FitzSimmons has an ally in another freshman Republican on the north side of the Twin Cities, :
State Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said he supports the amendment.
Petersen is the only Republican legislator to say he will vote to legalize same-sex marriage. He said the change to “civil marriage” has been in the works for weeks to ease some Republican concern about the measure.
The wording change would provide "further reassurance that it's the state role in marriage and not the religious institutions were talking about," FitzSimmons told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which offered this analysis:
House Speaker Paul Thissen has said he believes the 73-member DFL majority has the 68 votes needed to pass the bill as is, even without a single Republican vote.
But that would mean they would need votes from 12 of 17 non-metro DFLers seen as swing votes because their party favors legalizing gay marriage but they represent districts that voted for a constitutional amendment to limit marriages to heterosexual couples.