Students host panel on equal marriage rights

Local panel discusses the future of equal marriage legislation in the state.

Senator Scott Dibble, left, Pastor Mary Albing, center, and community member Lori Lippert discuss equal rights marriage legislation Thursday in Smith Hall.

Senator Scott Dibble, left, Pastor Mary Albing, center, and community member Lori Lippert discuss equal rights marriage legislation Thursday in Smith Hall.

Luke Feuerherm

Three local community leaders gathered at the University of Minnesota Thursday night to help better acquaint a crowd of nearly 70 students and citizens about upcoming equal marriage legislation. The panel was comprised of State Senator Scott Dibble, Pastor Mary Albing and community member Lori Lippert. Each member independently addressed the crowd gather in a Smith Hall auditorium before fielding questions regarding future legislation and the GLBT community. âÄúWe were on the defense and not moving forward,âÄù said Senator Dibble describing the current of GLBT legislation in the state of Minnesota. That current is now shifting as advocates eagerly await equal marriage legislation to be introduced to the state legislature in 2010 and 2011 and passed within the next five years according to the Senator. Dibble describes the coming legislation as âÄúbasically removing language that marriage has to be between a man and a woman.âÄù Playing to the supportive crowd, the discussion juxtaposed jovial anecdotes and sincere appeals to human rights. Panel member Lori Lippert lamented the economic effects that the lack of equal marriage in the state carries. âÄúThe lower you are economically, the harder these issues are,âÄù said Lippert. She went on to explain the difficulty her partner has faced in entrepreneurial endeavors, due to the lack of health care security that marriage would provide. âÄúI think it is important for people to hear another religious point of view,âÄù said Lutheran Pastor Mary Albing. The highly animated, openly gay pastor continued by stressing the need for understanding within the religious community. ThursdayâÄôs discussion was sponsored by Minnesota Public Interest Research Group which hoped to raise awareness for coming legislation, campus organizer Joe Eggers said. âÄúI am really glad people were receptive and asking a lot of questions of the panel,âÄù University of Minnesota student Mike Zwickey said. The receptiveness may prove to be the calm before the storm expected during future legislative sessions. However, in light of that expected storm, Senator Dibble assured ThursdayâÄôs crowd that âÄúthe answer is in our hands.âÄù