Same-sex weddings will not get reduced cost in Minneapolis parks

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May 28, 2013
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

A proposal that would have greatly reduced the permit fee for weddings in Minneapolis parks for two weeks in early August doesn’t have the support of the Minneapolis Park Board.

Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn (Sixth District) wanted to reduce the wedding permit fee from $500 to $1 from Aug. 1 to 15, which would have coincided with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

But after the Park Board’s legal counsel told commissioners that changing the permit fees would raise constitutionality issues, Bourn was unable to get someone on the board to second his motion to change the fees.

“My biggest concern would be that that would be an equal protection argument, that you would be treating similarly situated people differently,” Park Board attorney Ann Walther told commissioners on May 22.

Bourn, it should be noted, never said at the Park Board meeting or to The Journal that his fee reduction proposal was aimed at same-sex weddings. He said he wanted to use the lowered fees to promote weddings in city parks.

“I just want to increase interest in parks as a venue for weddings in general,” Bourn said. “It’s a really good income opportunity for the Park Board.”

Last year, the Park Board permitted 132 wedding in parks, bringing in $78,000 in revenue.

Bourn took issue with the Park Board legal counsel’s opinion. He noted that the Park Board reduces annual golf course memberships after mid-June every year.

“I’ve never heard an issue of constitutionality based on the day that somebody buys a permit for golf,” Bourn said.

At-large Commissioner Annie Young said she’s happy same-sex marriage was legalized, but called the discussion of lowering fees “ludicrous.”