MINNEAPOLIS - Gay marriage supporters in Minnesota have been quick to react to a Republican legislator's proposal of civil unions for gay couples.
Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, introduced a civil union bill on Wednesday as an alternative compromise to same sex marriage.
Jake Loesch, Communications Director for Minnesotans United for all Families, condemned the idea as unworkable.
"They are not understood. They are confusing," said Loesch. "Frankly, classifying same sex couples and their families as second class citizens, only worthy of this civil union status and not deserving of marriage is not something that Minnesotans United supports and I do not think that Minnesotans support."
Loesch pointed out that the Federal government does recognize civil unions.
"Same sex couples who have civil unions are still not able to file tax returns as a married couple and it is just an example of the whole slew of things that do not compare to marriage."
Tom DeGree, 48, and Dean Schlaak, 46, are co-owners of the Wilde Roast Café in Minneapolis.
"The word, marriage, means something to us," said DeGree.
"I think civil unions are so new that we do not know what they would allow and not allow," said Schlaak.
"We own a business that employs a lot of people," added DeGree. "We pay taxes and I teach for the schools where I have given a commitment to people in educating people. You know, it is a right that we have. The marriage thing, we do not take lightly. The civil union does not work. It needs to be a marriage."
Jenny Haigh and Aileen Guiney of St. Paul agree with DeGree and Schlaak. The two women are raising a 7-year-old son.
"To have a civil union , but not be allowed to be considered worthy of being people that are allowed to be married, you know, we are put in a separate or lesser class," said Haigh. "We are treated differently. I do not want that for my family. I do not want my son growing up learning that his parents are somehow judged to be not worthy of marriage."
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, the chief author of the gay marriage bill, said that civil unions are "separate, but unequal" and said that Kelly's civil union proposal would create new legal problems for gay couples in Minnesota.