September 17, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Last Friday, a Minnesota judge in Hennepin County heard motions in a case challenging that state’s so-called “mini-DOMA” law, which limits marriage to heterosexual couples. The suit was originally filed in 2010 and also addressed the 1971 state Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Nelson, which upheld a Minnesota law prohibiting marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Judge Mary Steenson Dufresne dismissed the lawsuit in March 2011, citing Baker, but her dismissal was later overturned by the Minnesota Court of Appeals this January, which cited Lawrence v. Texas and remanded the case back to the district court. The Minnesota lawsuit comes as the state gears up for a ballot initiative in November that will ask voters whether or not to amend the Minnesota Constitution to prohibit marriage equality.
Also on Friday, France’s minister of justice, Christiane Taubira, announced that President Francois Hollande’s government will present a draft marriage equality law to the Council of ministers on October 24. The text is not finished, and does not include a right to access for lesbian couples to artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, which Hollande had promised as a candidate.
In Iowa, a political action group is campaigning on behalf of David Wiggins, a state Supreme Court justice who voted in the unanimous decision establishing marriage equality in the state and is now up for a retention vote. Three other justices who voted in the case were ousted in 2010 during their retention votes. Justice Not Politics Action chairwoman Sally Pederson, a former lieutenant governor of Iowa, told the Des Moines Register, “There are Democrats and Republicans out there who support the courts and who understand that it’s important to keep politics out of the courts system.”
Finally, a new New York Times/CBS poll released late last week shows that 51 percent of respondents favor marriage equality, with 41 percent in opposition. Those numbers are an improvement from another NYT/CBS poll in July, when the numbers were split 46-44 percent. That means in just the span of two months, according to the poll, support for equal marriage rights has increased by five percent, while opposition has dropped by 4 percent. In addition, the fact that support has pushed the 50 percent mark to become a majority, as opposed to a plurality, is a positive sign as well.