DFL leaders "won't pass a bill legalizing" gay marriage this session... or will they? [UPDATE]

dayton dem leaders 2013 rect.jpg
Pioneer Press screengrab
Dayton speaks during yesterday's presser, flanked by DFL leaders Thissen (to Dayton's right) and Bakk (to Dayton's left).
Yesterday, Gov. Mark Dayton held a joint Capitol news conference with DFL and MNGOP legislative leaders.

SEE ALSO:
-- Senate Majority Leader-elect Bakk responds dismissively to pro-marriage equality email
-- MNGOP Rep.-elect Cindy Pugh is worried about "An illiterate, disengaged and lazy electorate"


While the presser will be remembered in part for the "weird smile" incoming Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, wore on his face, another important revelation is that DFLers intend to focus on the state budget, not social issues, this legislative session.

As reported by MinnPost, here's Dayton's list of priorities this session:
No. 1: A tax reform bill.

No. 2: Job creation (presumably through another bonding bill that would start with civic projects in St. Cloud, Rochester and Mankato).

No.3: A start to restoring cuts that have been made to higher education.

No. 4: Funding for early childhood education.
House Speaker-designate Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader-elect Tom Bakk "seemed to mostly agree with the governor about priorities," MinnPost's Doug Grow reports.

It's no accident that gay marriage, a relaxation of marijuana laws, and other issues of a non-budgetary sort don't make Dayton's list (although some would argue legalizing marijuana could do wonders for the state budget). Since last month's election, the DFL leadership has repeatedly stressed that the state's "serious financial challenges" will be the legislature's focus this session, not divisive social issues.

With regard to relaxing marijuana laws, Bakk said yesterday he's supportive of a medical marijuana bill, but Dayton has indicated he won't go along unless it has the support of law enforcement officials, which seems like a long shot.

And though Dayton has said he'd sign a bill legalizing gay marriage, the DFL leadership signaled yesterday that they're content to wait on the U.S. Supreme Court. From the Pioneer Press:
The DFL legislative leaders hinted there may be a lot of talk but no action on legalizing same-sex marriages next session, which convenes Jan. 8. Thissen said the leaders "don't want to stop the conversation" on marriage prompted by the failed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

But because the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear two cases challenging laws that define marriage as only the union of a man and a woman, he suggested lawmakers may wait until after the justices rule.

Lawmakers need more time to discuss the definition of marriage, Bakk said, but balancing the budget is a more pressing issue for now.
WCCO's Pat Kessler is more direct, reporting that "Democratic leaders say they expect to discuss and debate gay marriage, but won't pass a bill legalizing it in 2013."

In sum, Dayton advised those who hoped for bills relaxing marijuana laws, legalizing gay marriage, and introducing lots of new spending to temper their expectations.

"This is not going to be, as some fear and some hope, a sky's-the-limit approach," the governor said.

:::: UPDATE ::::

2:05 p.m. -- The DFL House Caucus' Zach Rodvold got in touch this afternoon to point out that WCCO's Pat Kessler backed off the strong language he used in yesterday's report.

As noted above, Kessler initially reported that "Democratic leaders say they expect to discuss and debate gay marriage, but won't pass a bill legalizing it in 2013." But later in the evening, Kessler added this: Rodvold also passed along a transcript of the remarks House Speaker-designate Thissen made about the gay marriage issue during yesterday's presser. Here they are -- draw your own conclusions:
Thissen: On the marriage issue, I think that what we have said all along, I would continue to say. That what that amendment said is that people don't want to stop that discussion cold. They don't want to lock into our state constitution one definition of marriage. I think that the conversation is going to continue to evolve. There will be proposals, people have already announced there are going to be proposals that will be debated or at least introduced, so we'll have that discussion. I think what happened last week with the Supreme Court, taking up the issue of marriage, I don't know exactly what that means right now and what the implications of that will be as well. So I think there is a conversation that is going to continue and that we will absolutely continue to engage in that conversation.
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9 comments
Joe Wessels
Joe Wessels

Other priorities? Like increasing the limit on campaign donations? Now that's a good idea. We all know that the more money we pump into it elections, the better. Great priorities there Gov.

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

While I'm annoyed at the attitudes of Bakk and Dayton prior to the Supreme Court announcement, I guess I can't blame legislators for NOT taking up repeal of DOMA if the Supreme Court may strike down all DOMAs nationwide in a couple months. (Of course, my understanding of what the Supreme Court may do is that of a complete layman, so if I misunderstand then I'm open to correction.) I'd still rather see Minnesota lead on the issue rather than follow.

A1batross
A1batross

While I'm annoyed at the attitudes of Bakk and Dayton prior to the Supreme Court announcement, I guess I can't blame legislators for NOT taking up repeal of DOMA if the Supreme Court may strike down all DOMAs nationwide in a couple months. (Of course, my understanding of what the Supreme Court may do is that of a complete layman, so if I misunderstand then I'm open to correction.) I'd still rather see Minnesota lead on the issue rather than follow.

webcelt
webcelt

@A1batross The court could have a narrow ruling or even uphold it. Even if DOMA is overturned, that wouldn't legalize gay marriage. It would just require every state to recognize marriages from another state. Conceivably the court could throw out all restrictions, but it seems awfully unlikely so conservative a court would go that far.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@A1batross It's really stupid of Dayton and Bakk to not take this up.  It's such a winning issue for the DFL these days.  Republicans sound like stupid bigots when they talk about gay people.   Democrats need to stop being so cowardly on every issue.

keny1
keny1

@MicheleBachmann They're not being cowardly.  They're being responsible and dealing with issues that take priority over gay marriage, like, you know, tax reform, job creation, education, etc.  Gay marriage can wait.  There are far more important things that need to be addressed this session.  My God.  I cannot believe I am actually agreeing with the MN DFL.  It seems they finally got their heads out of their asses and are actually starting to do the jobs that they were elected to do.   

A1batross
A1batross

@MicheleBachmann I agree. The only ameliorating factors for me (which don't fully cover them but make it a little more understandable) are a) my understanding is that the MN Legislature works on an every-other-year schedule of one year of legislation, one year of financial work and this may be a financial year, and b) the idea of saving money and effort if the Supreme Court may shortly make any anti-DOMA efforts moot. Again, REAL leaders, people with principles, wouldn't let these details stop them. They'd craft a repeal of MN DOMA on January 2nd and pass it on January 3rd and sign it on January 4th. But then, if we had REAL leaders we wouldn't be in the mess we are now, anyway.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@keny1Fuck off you stupid troll racist idiot.  If you gave a shit about priorities you would have gone after the Republicans who passed zero job bills but had plenty of time for gay marriage and voter id.  Stupid phony trash like you is what is wrong with this country.  You are a stupid scumbag with no core beliefs beyond your racism.  Go fuck yourself you stupid fucking troll. I hope everyone on the board remembers that all Republicans are phony racist trash like keny here.  Pathetic bootlicking coward.  Why don't you go suck up to Walmart again you dumb dick.

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