Project 515 to build on legislative success with 2010 agenda for equality

Bills Provide Equal Basic Protections to Same-Sex Families

lgbt news, gay news, project 515St. Paul, Minn., March 2, 2010 /LGBT News - Project 515/ Project 515 and Minnesota legislators have introduced the Basic Protections Initiative, which will ensure equal rules for personal asset distribution, access to health records, rights to employment wages and treatment in court for same-sex committed partners.

"When enacted, these basic protections will help bring Minnesota law in line with Wisconsin's Domestic Partner law," said Ann Kaner-Roth, Project 515 executive director. "Project 515 is building on its 2009 legislative success with a 2010 agenda at the Capitol that continues to seek equality under the law for same-sex couples and their families."

Senator Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park) is lead author on a bill that would eliminate discrimination faced by same-sex couples and their families during probate - the legal process that determines how to distribute a deceased family member's personal property.

"Same-sex families in our state are facing significant hurdles to their goals of raising healthy, stable families," Senator Scheid said. "These are values all Minnesota families share, but current Minnesota law discriminates against some families every day. I look forward to working with Project 515 to pass legislation that will erase this discrimination."

The Basic Protections Initiative focuses on the following:

Enforcing Equal Rules for Personal Asset Distribution

  • HF3134 authored by Representative Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis); SF2765 authored by Senator Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park)
  • Similar to married couples, the bill ensures that domestic partners are automatically included in the distribution of their loved ones' assets when a will is not provided

Ensuring Equal Access to Health Records

  • HF3086 authored by Representative Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis); SF2763 authored by Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth)
  • Assures domestic partners privacy during hospital visits, equal access to a partner's mental health diagnosis and equal rights after a partner's death - including consent to autopsies, hospice and organ donation
  • This bill's first hearing is scheduled for TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 2 at 3:15 p.m. in the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee, Room 200 State Office Building.

Providing Equal Rights to Employment Wages

  • HF3133 authored Representative Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis); SF2764, authored by Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis)
  • Provides a domestic partner the same government, military, wage or other benefits that a surviving married spouse would receive

Delivering Equal Treatment in Court

  • HF3135 authored by Representative Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park); SF2860 authored by Senator Linda Higgins (DFL-Minneapolis)
  • Provides the same benefits to domestic partners as provided to married spouses, including allowing domestic partners of crime victims to take time off of work to attend court hearings related to the victim's case and protecting personal communications between domestic partners

"During the most difficult of times, such as when a loved one is a victim of crime, Minnesota law should never bring undue stress to a family," said Representative Simon. "Passing the Equal Treatment in Court bill will reduce that stress by treating all families fairly - something most Minnesotans believe state laws should do."

Eight out of 10 Minnesotans believe the government should not treat people differently because of their sexual orientation, according to a statewide survey by Decision Resources Limited, a leading Minnesota polling firm.

Senator Solon agreed that equality under the law is a shared statewide value.

"Committed same-sex couples and their families live in every Minnesota county and they are our friends, family members, colleagues and members of our faith communities," Senator Solon said. "We must move our state one step closer toward fairness and equality for all Minnesota families."

Senator Solon's House colleagues also will continue work this session on passing the Final Wishes and Wrongful Death proposal (SF341), which Senators passed in 2009. The proposal would allow same-sex couples the same rights to carry out the final wishes of their loved ones and recover funeral and hospital expenses when a partner is killed wrongfully, such as by a drunken driver.


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