Dayton to push domestic partner benefit

Gov. Mark Dayton says he plans to include same-sex domestic partner benefits in Minnesota's state employee contracts.

Dayton, a gay-rights supporter, told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that he will put the benefits on the table in contract negotiations due to start in a few months.

Minnesota briefly offered health benefits to employees' domestic partners under Gov. Jesse Ventura, an independent. Republicans refused to ratify the deals, and GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty then negotiated contracts without the benefits.

Dayton's administration circulated an offer including domestic partner benefits during talks this year, but Dayton said they pulled the provision to keep them from certain defeat in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

If the benefits are adopted, domestic partners of state employees would become eligible for family health and dental coverage.

Democrats take over the Legislature next month.

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