A bill to allow same-sex couples to marry has survived several moves by Minnesota Senate Republicans to block or scuttle the bill. Only four Democratic-Farm-Labor senators voted to postpone the bill. Republicans claimed that they were trying to delay the bill in order to study if allowing same-sex couples to marry would cost taxpayer money in court costs and state employee benefits.
The final procedural vote could indicate how the final vote will go since that vote puts the bill on the Senate calendar. One Republican and Thirty-four Democrats voted to move the bill forward. At least one Democrat, Rod Skoe, has come out and said he is still undecided about the bill noting that he voted to move the bill forward out of respect for traditional procedure. Skoe stated “I’m undecided and even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t say yet.”
The bill still has to go through the House, and the bill may end up being moot depending on how the United States Supreme Court rules on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8.
Senate Republicans tried to make the issue about money producing a document which they claim shows how legalizing same-sex marriage would cost the state’s insurance fund some $600,000 a year in order to provide coverage to spouses of gay state employees. One Republican, Senator Scott Newman, said “I think it’s going to cost the state of Minnesota a bunch of money. I think that impact is going to be significant. If I’m wrong, so be it.”
Democratic Senator Dick Cohen, the chair of the Finance Committee, said that the costs could not be estimated very well, and are not likely to be very high. He also noted that his committee almost never reviews the fiscal impact of judicial policy changes.