Marriage without a license

Despite living in Minnesota, Doug Benson, 55, and his husband Duane Gajewski, 45, married in Thunder Bay, Ontario after the province passed marriage equality legislation in 2003. ThatâÄôs a decade after Duluth denied them a marriage license. If you ask the couple whether they were still married when they crossed that Canadian border, theyâÄôd say yes. The same holds true with thousands of gay couples across the state. But Minnesota disagrees. That could soon change with the passage of the Marriage and Family Protection Act, which would effectively nullify MinnesotaâÄôs DOMA statute and provide equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state. It is not the only marriage equality approach currently under consideration. Another proposal, crafted by Project 515, recommends a multiyear plan to eliminate each of the 515 statutes that discriminate against MinnesotaâÄôs thousands of same-sex couples. Advocates say the 515 approach is a more politically feasible one. Critics say it is slow moving. Project 515âÄôs proposal is admirable, but not expedient enough for MinnesotaâÄôs gay families who are forced to experience the injustice of unsympathetic hospital bureaucracy, or lose the opportunity of a partnerâÄôs exclusive retirement plan. âÄúIf there were a medical emergency and I were unconscious in the hospital, IâÄôd want my husband of 18 years to be able to make decisions for me,âÄù said Benson. So while the state of Minnesota fails to grant Benson and Gajewski the rights of marriage, the couple assumes all of its responsibilities.