Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What a Day in Minnesota

Silver-haired man with rainbow umbrella standing before the Minnesota State Capitols dome and gold horses
I'm 53, but I feel as though I was part of the beginning of the world view common among young Americans today that marriage equality seems to go without saying. That doesn't mean I thought it would pass in Minnesota any time soon, though.

Two years ago this week, I was at a fundraising dinner where I ran into Ann Kaner-Roth, a former client, who by that time was executive director of Project 515, a Minnesota nonprofit group dedicated to legalizing same-sex marriage. (The name refers to the 515 legal privileges accorded to married couples in Minnesota.) As we spoke, the Republican-controlled state legislature was on the verge of approving a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It did so the next week.

I asked Ann if we would be able to turn back an amendment like that, after 31 states -- including, unbelievably, California -- had failed. She hoped we could and said it would come down to organizing.

Project 515 soon joined with an older state GLBT group, OutFront Minnesota, to form a campaign organization, which they called Minnesotans United for All Families. That group successfully organized to defeat the amendment, mainly through an incredible phone bank of volunteers (and a memorable, clear graphic identity, I might add).

At the same time the amendment went down in flames, the state's voters also turned both houses of the legislature back to the DFL (Democrats), and so with a DFL governor who is a long-time marriage-equality supporter, it seemed possible that marriage equality would come to a vote in the 2013 session.

Even so, it wasn't a sure thing, and the speeches were something to hear. The vote was 75 - 59 last Thursday in the House and 37 - 30 in the Senate on Monday. One Senate and four House Republicans voted for it.

I do worry about the 2014 election, though. 2010 was horrible in Minnesota and if the next off-year election is similar, the whole thing could be overturned. Though I think it's unlikely the governor will be defeated since no one seems to want to run against him, so at least there's that.

The bill signing on Tuesday was at 5:15 p.m. on the steps of the Capitol. The governor, Senate and House sponsors, and the campaign head spoke in the 95° sun. Then we followed the Minnesota Freedom Band to downtown St. Paul where a huge party was going on.

What a day in Minnesota.

More photos tomorrow.

1 comment:

peppery said...

Congratulations to you and all Minnesotans! I wish I was there.