Home Feature Handicapping gay marriage in the Senate

Handicapping gay marriage in the Senate

Handicapping gay marriage in the Senate

A little over half a dozen Minnesota Senators hold the votes that are key to passing marriage equality in Minnesota. Thirty four votes are needed to pass the bill, and the there’s likely 31 votes in support. If the DFLers and one Republican who have indicated support for marriage equality do indeed vote for the bill, and three undecideds end up voting yes, the bill will pass. Here are some of the holdouts and leaners:

Sen. Rod Skoe, a DFLer, represents the district running from the Northwest Angle through Red Lake to Detroit Lakes. He has consistently said he is undecided on the issue. The marriage amendment passed in his district with 63 percent of the vote. He voted on the Senate floor in opposition to sending the bill back to committee, considered by some to be a vote in favor of marriage equality. He said he did not view the vote that way.

Sen. Tom Saxhaug, a DFLer who represents the area running from Bemidji to Grand Rapids south to just north of Brainerd. He says he is “sympathetic” about gay marriage but want to wait to see how the Supreme Court will rule.

“By then we’ll know where the Supreme Court falls on this question,” Saxhaug said. “For us to just stick our necks out without knowing which way the federal government’s going makes it tough.”

55 percent of his district voted for the marriage amendment. Because he is sympathetic and the vote will likely come in the next few weeks, he’s in the lean yes category.

And Minnesota for Marriage seems to think he will vote yes.

Sen. David Tomassoni, a DFLer representing the central portion of the Iron Range, hasn’t made his stance clear repeatedly saying that the budget should take priority over marriage equality. His district voted 53 percent.

Sen. Matt Schmidt, a DFLer representing a southeastern Minnesota district running the Mississippi from Red Wing to Winona, hasn’t made his position known. 55 percent of his district voted for the marriage amendment. Marriage equality opponents have sent out mailers targeting him. (update: Schmidt told TPT’s Almanac last Friday that he is voting for the bill)

DFL Sen. Dan Sparks represents the district along the Iowa border from Albert Lea to Austin, hasn’t made his position known. His district voted for the amendment with 59 percent.

DFL Sen. Alice Johnson, who was endorsed by OutFront Action in 2012, hasn’t made any public statements about the marriage equality bill. Her district, which covers Blaine and Spring Lake Park, defeated the amendment at 48 percent support. With those data points, it’s likely she will support the bill.

DFLer Sen. Bev Scalze’s district defeated the amendment with 44 percent support. It runs from Mounds View to Shoreview to Vadnais Heights. In the past, she’s rated at about 50 percent on LGBT rights scorecards, so she will be one to watch. She has not made her position on the marriage equality bill publicly known.

None returned our request for which way they planned to vote.

On the Republican side, Sen. David Senjem of northern Rochester, says he is undecided.

“I am just going to wait until that magic moment and make that decision in a pretty spontaneous way,” he told the Rochester Post Bulletin. If he had to vote today, he would vote no, but thinks he could change his mind.


  1. On Friday 5-3-13 on Almanac (TPT Twin Cities Public Television) Senator Matt Schmit (no “d”) said he would vote Yes. So good news. Thanks Andy for good and knowledgeable coverage. Badly needed these days in the LGBT community.

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