House passes bill to give same-sex couples some rightsby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota House passed legislation Tuesday that would give gay and lesbian couples certain rights afforded to married couples.
DFL Rep. Erin Murphy said long-time gay couples should have the rights to control the remains of a loved one after they die.
In the event of a wrongful death, the legislation also allows a surviving domestic partner the right to sue to recover damages.
"This legislation eliminates two of 515 Minnesota laws that discriminate against committed couples," Murphy said. "That's why I think it's important. That's why I don't think it's divisive. That's why I think it's important because we should never tolerate discrimination in Minnesota."
The House passed the measure 78-55. If the measure becomes law, it would be the first time domestic partners would be defined in Minnesota law.
Critics say Democrats should be focusing on the state's budget problem not a bill that focuses on domestic partner benefits.
Others questioned why lawmakers are giving rights to gay couples but not heterosexual couples who aren't married.