The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 1, 2012

North Mankato City Council rejects marriage amendment hearing

By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press

NORTH MANKATO — The North Mankato City Council has rejected a request to hold a public hearing on the marriage amendment set to be decided by voters in just over a month.

Mayor Mark Dehen and council members Diane Norland and Bill Schindle said they didn't believe it's a proper city function to sponsor a discussion of -- or take an official position related to -- the amendment that would constitutionally reinforce Minnesota's existing law limiting marriage to opposite sex couples.

Councilman Bob Freyberg didn't comment and Councilman Billy Schindle was absent, but the opposition to a public hearing by three members of the five-person council decided the issue. The request by North Mankatoan Nancy Cramblit to pass a resolution opposing the amendment would have required a public hearing on Oct. 16.

Two supporters and two opponents of the amendment, put on the ballot by Minnesota's Republican-controlled Legislature, offered opinions Monday night on whether the council should weigh in on the issue. Cramblit asked the council to become the 14th city council in the state to oppose the amendment, but she said her overriding goal -- even if the council didn't want to pass the resolution -- was to have the city sponsor a discussion of the topic in the interest of informing voters.

Bob Wegscheid, speaking on behalf of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church's pro-amendment committee, said the city has no legitimate reason to inject itself into an issue that is to be decided by the state's voters. Wegscheid also discouraged the council from holding a hearing to allow North Mankatoans to debate the issue, saying the Legislature had already held hearings where public testimony was allowed.

While Dehen and Schindle didn't offer their opinions on the amendment itself, Norland said she publicly opposes it as an individual but doesn't believe she should take a position as a council member.

The Mankato City Council held a public hearing on the amendment in August. After more than two hours of public testimony, the council voted 4-3 to oppose the amendment.