Minnesota lawmakers have introduced the Basic Protections Initiative, a policy developed by Project 515 which would assist same-sex couples in a variety of ways. Four bills comprise the initiative and each expand rights for domestic partners. “When enacted, these basic protections will help bring Minnesota law in line with Wisconsin’s Domestic Partner law,” Ann Kaner-Roth, Project 515 executive director, said in a statement on Monday.

The four bills are:

Delivering Equal Treatment in Court: HF3135 would allow domestic partners the same rights in court when one is a victim of crime, including the right to take time off of work.

Enforcing Equal Rules for Personal Asset Distribution: HF3134 would allow domestic partners access to an estate similar to spouses when one partner dies.

Providing Equal Rights to Employment Wages: HF3133 would allow domestic partners to collect worker’s compensation in the event that their partner dies in a work-related accident.

Ensuring Equal Access to Health Records: HF3086 would allow surviving domestic partners to gain access to their deceased/incapacitated partner’s medical records in the same manner as spouses. It would also allow partners to get medical information on the condition of a partner from medical personnel.

Several legislators offered these words in support of the bills:

Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park: “Same-sex families in our state are facing significant hurdles to their goals of raising healthy, stable families. 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.”

Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park: “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.”

Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth: “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. We must move our state one step closer toward fairness and equality for all Minnesota families.”

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.