Gay couple loses appeal over disputed Minnesota marriage license

They are seeking to force Blue Earth County to recognize their 1971 union.

Posted: Dec. 26, 2017 11:01 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A gay couple has lost another legal fight over getting the state to recognize their marriage in the early 1970s.
J
ames Michael McConnell and Pay Lyn McConnell, also known at Richard John Baker, first applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County in May 1970. It was denied because they were both men, a decision supported at the time by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

As their appeal was pending in 1971, however, James McConnell submitted a second marriage license request to Blue Earth County that listed Pat McConnell as a female living in the county. That marriage license was issued on August 16 but before the month was over, the Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office had determined the license was invalid under state law and it was not recorded in county records.

In September 2014, James McConnell mailed a letter to the Blue Earth County clerk and asked for a certified copy of the marriage certificate. The County Attorney’s Office informed McConnell that would not be possible.

A petition was filed in November 2016 requesting the district court order Blue Earth County to officially record the 1971 marriage license. The court refused and an appeal was filed.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has now upheld that refusal, pointing to the incorrect statements made on the marriage license application. The Court also found that the McConnell’s have not proven they have suffered a “particular harm” from not having their 1971 marriage recorded.

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