A trio of DFL senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would retroactively grant marriage rights to civilly married same-sex couples where one spouse died before marriage equality became law in August 2013. The bill would allow surviving spouses to be eligible for burial or memorial rights afforded under state or federal law.

The bill (SF2169) states, in part:

Subd. 2.
Exception to license and solemnization requirements in certain cases.
A civil marriage between two persons who were prohibited by law from marrying before
August 1, 2013, because they were persons of the same sex, who met the requirements of
this paragraph, and who subsequently were unable to meet the license and solemnization
requirements of subdivision 1 because of the death of one of the persons, is recognized to
the extent provided for under paragraph (b). The two persons must have:
(1) agreed by mutual, present consent to be spouses;
(2) lived together continuously under that agreement; and
(3) made a public declaration or held themselves out to the public as spouses.
(b) If the requirements of paragraph (a) are met, the two persons are considered married
for purposes of eligibility for burial or memorial benefits under state or federal law. Proof
of a civil marriage for purposes of this paragraph may be made by a verified affidavit
executed by the surviving person.

For couples who were civilly married and a spouse died before same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota, benefits such as social security, retirement, or veterans benefits can be difficult for the surviving spouse to obtain. The bill aims to assist those couples by retroactively granting those marriage rights.

The bill’s authors are DFL Sens. Nick Frentz of North Mankato, Greg Clausen of Apple Valley, Jerry Newton of Coon Rapids.

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