By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com February 28 2013 7:16 PM ET
A bipartisan group of Minnesota lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would revoke Minnesota's statutory ban on same-sex marriage and enact marriage equality, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The bill's Democratic sponsors, including Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark said they were unsure if they already have the votes to pass the legislation but are encouraged by voters' rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage last November. Joining the two Democrats authoring the bill is Republican Sen. Branden Petersen, who said the freedom to marry aligned with his conservative values of limited government and personal liberty.
Both Republicans and Democrats held news conferences yesterday regarding the legislation, but unsurprisingly, the conferences had very different tones.
While the bill's Democratic sponsors spoke about the need for marriage equality in the North Star State, a toddler with two gay dads stole the show.
Minneapolis pediatrician Paul Mechert addressed the press holding his 3-year-old son, Emmet. While his dad made several strong points about how equality positively impacts the health of a family, Emmet wiggled, drove a toy car across his dad's head, and kissed his dad's face — generally acting like your average, happy toddler. Watch video from the entire press conference below, and click to the 15:15 timestamp to meet Emmet. Then scroll down for the counterpoint made by Republicans.
Many Minnesota Republicans were livid at the legislation's introduction and held a press conference decrying the sins of those who "choose" to be gay or lesbian, and saying marriage equality will destroy religious liberty — despite the fact that marriage equality legislation across the country almost universally includes exemptions for religious institutions.
Sen. Glenn Gruenhagen was particularly incensed, claiming definitively that, since the human genome was mapped in 2003 without the discovery of a "gay gene," gay people are undeserving of any legal protections whatsoever.
"The concept that you were 'born that way' and it's an immutable characteristic is an unscientific lie," said Gruenhagen. The senator also told reporters that being gay or lesbian is nothing more than "an unhealthy sexual addiction," according to ThinkProgress LGBT's Zack Ford.
Sen. Dan Hall, who self-identified as a member of the clergy, said he would "personally go to jail before I ever perform a marriage to a homosexual."
Watch Minnesota Republicans have a collective conniption below: