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Gay marriage in Minn.: Falk will vote yes; Sawatzky will vote no

ST. PAUL – Rep. Andrew Falk, a DFLer from Murdock, said in a statement emailed Wednesday night that he intends to vote in favor of a House bill to legalize civil marriages for same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, fellow DFLer Mary Sawatzky from Willmar, has said previously she intends to vote no.

Debate on the bill is expected to begin at noon today.

Falk said because the bill includes the term “civil marriages,” religious institutions would not be forced to marry two individuals of the same sex.

Falk said he’s talked to his District 17A constituents about in the issue, and while he doesn’t question their “motivations or the sincerity of their views,” the arguments he has heard against same-sex marriage have been “primarily biblical in nature or simply due to the fact that the person does not like people who are gay or lesbian.”

Falk said those are not valid reasons to use when “deciding law in a secular institution that grants equal protection to all citizens under the law.”

Falk acknowledged that the debate is an “emotional issue” for both sides, but said, “Simply stating, “I don’t like it” is not a compelling argument to continue to allow the denial of happiness and equal rights to same-sex couples.”

Falk said he married his wife last summer because she was “a person I couldn’t live without.”

He asked, “How do I in good conscience not support that same right for all Minnesotans?”

In an Associated Press story published Saturday in the West Central Tribune, Sawatzky said she was “voting no to reflect my district on this one.”

Voters in District 17B, which Sawatzky represents, last year backed the gay marriage ban proposed in a constitutional amendment by a margin above 60 percent.

Voters in Falk’s district also backed the proposed amendment by a substantial margin.

The amendment ultimately failed.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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