Yesterday Minnesota became the 12th state to recognize marriage equality. It was a great day for all Minnesotans. (More)
Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.
Yesterday, Minnesota’s Governor, Mark Dayton signed marriage equality into law. It was a historic day for Minnesota. I was one of many, many volunteers for Minnesotans United for All Families. Being an activist feels really good. It feels good wearing a goofy grin and having eyes leaking with tears of joy. It means big hugs with fellow activists at the hardware store and the grocery store in town.
Minnesota’s march to marriage equality officially began in 1970:
On May 18, 1970, two Minneapolis men made a shocking request. They applied for a marriage license. Jack Baker was a law student at the University of Minnesota. Mike McConnell was a librarian working at the U. The men had been a couple since meeting in Oklahoma a few years before.
At the time, Minnesota’s marriage laws didn’t mention gender, but Hennepin County rejected their request. Baker and McConnell sued Hennepin County District Court clerk Gerald Nelson, and lost. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against them as well. The 1971 ruling in Baker v. Nelson set the precedent against same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
Baker and McConnell are still a couple, just in case you were wondering.
In 1972 Baker took his case to the state DFL convention which adopted a plank guaranteeing gays and lesbians full civil rights. On May 14, not quite 43 years later Minnesota became the 12th state to have marriage equality.
In 2010 the Republicans controlled the state House and Senate but a Democrat, Mark Dayton, was elected Governor. The Republican legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for 2012 defining marriage as one man and one woman. Minnesotans United was formed to defeat that amendment. In thirty other states the same kinds of amendments had passed. Minnesotans defeated that amendment with a brilliant campaign. Instead of focusing on rights we focused on families and the idea that everyone ought to be able to marry the person they love. We called fellow Minnesotans and shared stories of loving couples raising children in stable homes. We talked about our friends and family members who were gay and lesbian. We had a special faith outreach team and the support of many churches. It was a personal campaign that took the high road. Many prominent Republicans joined in support.
I am usually a Democratic volunteer and know from VoteBuilder what kind of person I am calling. I had to make a little index card to put in front of my computer to remind myself what kinds of calls I was making on any given day. I had to listen differently. I thought I was speaking from my heart when making DFL calls but I learned a whole new style of calling that was pretty much all heart. Many of the folks I talked with responded with the same open hearts. At the phone banks we could tell when a volunteer got a not so open person and we took good care of each other when that happened.
Governor Dayton signed the bill on the steps of the Capitol. Over 6,000 people were there. Then a band led a march to a plaza in St. Paul where a big party was planned with bands and DJs. What a celebration!
Sometimes, sitting with a computer and a phone or knocking on doors or training new volunteers one wonders if this really makes a difference. Between defeating the amendment and seeing marriage equality become law were thousands and thousands of phone calls and events. Maybe every call doesn’t make a difference but all together they make a huge difference. Remember that when someone calls to ask you to volunteer for the 2014 election or to support some local or state issue. Together we can make a difference.
Below is a citizen video by Dan Albertson.