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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Marry Me Minnesota Gets 10,000 Challenge Grant

From Doug Benson of Marry Me Minnesota:

I met a middle-aged lesbian couple (they wish to remain anonymous) who came to protest at the Capitol late in the session. They are as fed up with the lack of action on marriage equality as we are and after learning of Marry Me Minnesota's intention to sue the state, decided to contribute to the effort.

After making an initial substantial contribution earlier this month, they offered a second, larger contribution to Marry Me Minnesota in the form of a $10,000 matching grant in the hope of encouraging broader investment from the community. They set a deadline of August 1 for the grant to be matched, so we are hoping that people will contribute as much as they can during this limited window of opportunity to have their donations matched, dollar for dollar.

To put this generous grant in perspective, Marry Me Minnesota has raised a total of $9000 since we started last fall. Upon signing the first retainer with our law firm, in December, we paid them $3000 to prepare the case. Our next step is to sign a new retainer covering the trial phase of the suit. The law firm is requiring $10,000 upon signing, at which point the suit will be filed in court. Ninety days after the signing, we're required to present them with another $10,000. You can see that this matching grant, when matched, will go a long way to paying for the case.

The amount being charged by the law firm sounds like a lot of money, but the thirty to sixty thousand dollars they have estimated it will take to cover the case represents about one tenth the going rate. I spoke with another local law firm that estimated they would charge about $300,000 for this case. So, we realize our law firm, Mansfield, Tanick and Cohen is taking our case, basically pro bono.

We have about $6000 on hand right now but we hope people who want to see Minnesota's discriminatory marriage laws challenged in court will take advantage of the matching grant to match their contributions, dollar for dollar, and get us beyond the filing threshold very soon. Once the suit is filed, the publicity should help in raising the remaining funds.

This month marks a year since we started. It's been a long slog, but we've kept moving forward and now we're near our goal of accessing the judicial branch to try to bring an end to official discrimination against our families.


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