LGBT rights in Minnesota

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LGBT rights in Minnesota
Map of USA MN.svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2001
Gender identity/expression Yes, since 1993
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriages began on August 1, 2013
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Minnesota have much the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

In 1849 the Minnesota Territory was given Wisconsin's laws, including a ban on heterosexual and homosexual sodomy, which was defined by the common law. When Minnesota drafted its own criminal code, it kept this prohibition. In 1921, it expanded the definition of sodomy to include fellatio as well as anal intercourse.[1] Beyond the criminal laws, vagrancy laws banned anyone from soliciting for "immoral purposes".

In 1939 a wave of child molestation cases in St. Paul, Minnesota, led to the enactment of a psychopathic offender law, which included LGBT people alongside rapists and child molesters. Though justified by the need to protect children and others from sexual abuse, those convicted of homosexuality constituted the major part of those imprisoned under it.[1]

In State v. Blom (1984), the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the criminal ban on sodomy also applied to the act of cunnilingus. A few years later in State v. Gray the Court rejected the argument that privacy rights applied to sodomy involving prostitution. However, the court did recognize that the State Constitution protected privacy rights, although it stopped short of stating whether or not private, adult, consensual and non-commercial sodomy was covered under the State Constitution's right to privacy.[citation needed]

In Doe et al. v. Ventura et al. (2001), Minneapolis Judge Delilah Pierce ruled that the sodomy law violated the State Constitution when dealing with private, adult, consensual and non-commercial sodomy. The ruling was later certified as being a class action lawsuit and the State did not appeal, thus voiding the law in terms of private, consensual, non-commercial acts of sodomy by consenting adults,[2] two years before Lawrence v. Texas.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota on August 1, 2013. There are also domestic partnership ordinances in 18 cities:

Baker v. Nelson[edit]

Main article: Baker v. Nelson

In 1972, Jack Baker filed a lawsuit against Gerald R. Nelson after being denied a marriage license. The case resulted in the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that Minnesota law limited marriage to opposite-sex couples and doing so did not violate the State Constitution or United States Constitution.

Minnesota Amendment 1[edit]

On November 6, 2012, Minnesota voters by a margin of 51.5% to 47.5% with 1% abstention defeated a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have banned same-sex marriage in Minnesota.[20]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

On February 28, 2013, a bill was introduced in the Minnesota Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.[21] On May 9, it passed the House of Representatives by 75-59 votes.[22] On May 13, 2013, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 37-30.[23] Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on May 14; same-sex marriage became legal and recognized in the state on August 1, 2013.[24]

Statewide civil rights[edit]

In 1989, then Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich created a state commission to study the prospect of adding sexual orientation to the State's Human Rights Act. The commission proposal was not passed by the legislature, but the subsequent Governor, Arne Carlson formed a similar committee in 1990 [10].

In 1992, Governor Arne Carlson signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in State, civilian employment.

In 1993, Minnesota amended its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation and/or gender identity in housing, insurance, goods and services, contracts, health benefits, hospital visitation rights, and employment.[25][26]

The State Minnesota Human Rights Act uses the following definition with regards to the phrase, "sexual orientation";

"Sexual orientation" means having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one's biological maleness or femaleness. "Sexual orientation" does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.[26] The law does allow religious organizations, youth groups and certain small businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.[26]

Living Conditions[edit]

The Twin Cities metro area has a vibrant LGBT community, seen with annual pride events, community center, nightclubs and other groups

Outside of the Twin Cities, annual pride events are held in large cities such as Duluth, Moorhead, St.Cloud and Rochester.

In smaller, more rural, communities, the LGBT community is less visible, and prevailing social attitudes tend to more conservative. This is especially the case in Northwest - West Central Minnesota.

A small LGBT group exists in Brainerd, Minnesota and another small group, SOHR, exists for the lakes region.


Minnesota law allows single LGBT people to petition to adopt children, whilst there is no specific prohibition against joint same-sex couple adoption petitions or step-parent petitions for same-sex couples.[27] The state's only organization solely dedicated to finding families for Minnesota's children, Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, allows same-sex partners to adopt in identical fashion to singles and opposite-sex partners.[28]

Hate crime[edit]

In 1989, Minnesota laws where expanded to protect people from hate crimes on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. In 1993, sexual orientation was expanded to include the category of gender identity.[29]


On December 17, 1991, in a landmark ruling, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, overturning a lower court ruling in In re Guardianship of Kowalski, awarded guardianship of Sharon Kowalski, brain-damaged in an accident eight years earlier, to her lesbian partner Karen Thompson over the objections of Kowalski's parents.[30]

Major party positions[edit]

The Democratic Farmer Labor Party 2010 Platform opposes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The party came out against the Minnesota ballot measure that would ban legal recognition of same sex marriage.[31] The DFL Party had previously added a plank supporting marriage equality to the party platform 41 years earlier, at the State Party Convention in June 1972 (in response to the Baker vs. Nelson decision). That is believed to be the first statewide endorsement of marriage equality by any major political party in the US.

The Republican Party of Minnesota 2010 Platform opposes K-12 school teachers talking about homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism with their students. It also expressly opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships.[32]

The Independence Party of Minnesota 2012 Platform opposes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The party came out against the Minnesota ballot measure that would make recognition of same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the state.[33]

Minor party positions[edit]

The Constitution Party of Minnesota Platform calls for the criminalization of homosexuality and opposes legal recognition of same sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships[34]

The Green Party of Minnesota Platform opposes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and supports legal recognition of same sex marriages.[35]

The Libertarian Party of Minnesota Platform opposes private sector anti-discrimination laws, but believes that the government itself should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States - Minnesota". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Doe vs. Ventura". Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  3. ^ [1], Minnesota Public Radio.
  4. ^ [2], Minnesota Independent.
  5. ^ [3],
  6. ^ [4],
  7. ^ [5],
  8. ^ [6],
  9. ^ [7], Minnesota Independent.
  10. ^ [8],
  11. ^ [9],
  12. ^ "Updates". Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Falcon Heights is 12th city with domestic partner registry". July 28, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ Warden, James (September 30, 2011). "Hopkins Passes Franchise Fees, Social Host Ordinance and Domestic Partner Registry - Government - Hopkins, MN Patch". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ "City of Shorewood MN". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Domestic Partnerships in Minnesota - Are Domestic Partnerships Legal in Minnesota?". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ "January 24, 2012 - 4:15 PM". 
  19. ^ Mary Jane Smetanka (January 24, 2012). "Eden Prairie OKs registry for domestic partners". Star Tribune. 
  20. ^ MSNBC (November 7, 2012). "Minnesota election results". MSNBC. 
  21. ^ Minnesota State Legislature (May 10, 2013). "HF 1054 Status in the House for the 88th Legislature (2013 - 2014)". Minnesota State Legislature. 
  22. ^ David Bailey (May 9, 2013). "Minnesota House votes to advance same-sex marriage bill". Reuters. 
  23. ^ Reuters (May 13, 2013). "Minnesota senate passes gay marriage bill, governor to sign". Reuters. 
  24. ^ Huffington Post (May 14, 2013). "Minnesota Legalizes Gay Marriage: Gov. Mark Dayton Signs Bill Into Law". Huffington Post. 
  25. ^ Preston, Joshua. "Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act." Minnesota History 65 (2016): 76-87.
  26. ^ a b c CHAPTER 22-H.F.No. 585
  27. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Minnesota Adoption Law, accessed May 15, 2013
  28. ^ MN Adopt: How to Adopt, accessed May 15, 2013
  29. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Minnesota Hate Crimes Law, accessed May 12, 2011
  30. ^ Lewin, Tamar (December 18, 1991). "Disabled Woman's Care Given to Lesbian Partner". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  31. ^ Archived from the original on January 2, 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "Independence Party of Minnesota | Minnesota First!". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  34. ^ Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^
  36. ^ Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)