Gay rights organization pleased with property rights bill

A gay rights organization is pleased Gov. Pawlenty has signed legislation to protect the property rights of unmarried couples - including same-sex couples - in Minnesota.

In the past, the state could seize someone's home after that person died to recoup medical assistance money. That seizure was delayed if a surviving spouse lived in the house.

Under the new law, that exception now extends to anyone with an ownership stake in the house, who lived there for at least three months before his or her partner died.

Laura Smidzik is the executive director of Project 515, a Minnesota gay rights group that lobbied for the law. She said the group's name reflects the 515 statutes in Minnesota law that they feel discriminates against same-sex couples.

"I think people have no idea how much discrimination actually exists," Smidzik said. "And when you really dive into the 515 statutes I think it really changes the conversation and that's what our goal is."

Smidzik said the new law protects older Minnesota citizens who have decided not to remarry and rural families who move in together to help care for an ailing relative.

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