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Minnesota Same-Sex Couples Aim for Legislation on After-Death Decisions

January 23, 2009

A proposal headed to the Minnesota legislature aims to break down barriers same-sex couples often encounter when one partner dies. Advocates for the legislation say it would allow same-sex couples the same rights as a legally married couples when it comes to a partner's final wishes.

Laura Smidzik, director of Project 515, says the bill would give committed same-sex partners control over decisions such as cremation or burial.

"It eliminates a costly and often ineffective legal document to make an after-death decision."

Project 515 draws its name from the 515 statutes the group says discriminate against same-sex couples.

St. Paul Representative Erin Murphy is introducing the "Final Wishes Bill" in the state House. She says committed couples, whether of the same sex or not, know best and should have ultimate control over a partner's last intentions.

"Carrying out the final wishes of someone you love is a right of passage. It's a duty that we take seriously. It is our last act for the one that we love."

The legislation is one of several at the Capitol designed to improve the legal standing of same-sex couples in Minnesota, including a bill to legalize gay marriage. Advocates say they have not heard from Governor Tim Pawlenty whether he supports the efforts.


Art Hughes, Public News Service - MN