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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 21, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 21
Heartless Tim Pawlenty vetoes 'basic human decency'
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Heartless Tim Pawlenty vetoes 'basic human decency'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has vetoed a bill to give the surviving partner in a same-sex couple the right to carry out a deceased partner's funeral wishes and to recover damages in the event of a wrongful death.

Pawlenty vetoed the bill on May 15.

In his veto message, Pawlenty said he believes opposite-sex couples should continue to get privileged treatment not afforded to same-sex couples.

"Marriage - as defined as between a man and a woman - should remain elevated in our society at a special level, as it traditionally has been," he said. "I oppose efforts to treat domestic relationships as the equivalent of traditional marriage."

According to the Minnesota Independent newspaper, Pawlenty said the problem of funeral arrangements was "nonexistent," since same-sex couples may "simply draw up the appropriate paperwork."

Pawlenty is finishing his second term as Minnesota governor, and has announced he will not run for a third term. He is reported to be interested in running for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

Pawlenty has been associated with the moderate center of the Republican Party, but now seems to be moving to the right to appeal to Republican base voters.

Openly Gay Minnesota Sen. Scott Dibble called the veto "partisan extremism."

"This bill was about basic human decency," Dibble said in a statement. "We have heard too many heart-wrenching stories of Minnesotans suffering unimaginable indignities because the current law stood in the way. It is incredibly unfortunate that we are allowing government red tape and partisan extremism to block loving couples through the final phase of life."

"It is very disappointing that the governor is willing to politicize the most personal and difficult decisions of a person's lifetime," Dibble added.

Dibble married his partner Richard Leyva in California prior to the passage of Prop 8, but Minnesota does not recognize their marriage. He has introduced marriage equality legislation but the bill so far has not gotten a committee hearing.

Project 515 - a group that supported the bill Pawlenty vetoed - said that the governor did not have all his facts straight.

"The governor's facts are wrong," Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of Project 515, said in a statement on May 16. "Same-sex couples can't sue for wrongful death, and current law does not provide the same level of protection for a same-sex partner trying to carry out their deceased partner's final wishes."

"His comment that the proposed legislation is unnecessary shows he is out of step with the experiences of real Minnesotans," Kaner-Roth added. "Many families have faced exactly the kind of discrimination this legislation sought to prevent even though they had put in place all of the legal and other preparations available to them under current law."

The bill's language was copied from written benefits policies of Fortune 500 companies operating in Minnesota, Kaner-Roth noted. Most offer benefits for same-sex couples, she said.

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