Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Minnesota Legalizes Gay Marriage

(Photo: Twitter)

(Photo: Twitter)

Minnesota has become the 12th US state to achieve marriage equality for LGBT residents after the governor signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, signed a bill that will allow same-sex couples to begin marrying on August 1. A crowd of thousands gathered on the lawn of the state Capitol in St. Paul erupted in roaring applause, with rainbow flags waving in the air as Dayton exclaimed, “What a day for Minnesota!”

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness certainly includes the right to marry the person you love,” Dayton said before signing the bill into law.

State Rep. Karen Clark and state Sen. Scott Dibble, both of whom sponsored HF 1054 and both of whom are gay, hailed the passage of the measure they’ve fought to pass for more than two years.

“I thought it would happen someday, but I didn’t know I would be able to be here to be part of it,” Clark told the AP before the signing ceremony. Clark, who is 67 and the longest-serving openly gay lawmaker in the United States, is now legally allowed to marry Jacquelyn Zita, her partner of 24 years.

Dibble also plans on exercising his newly-won right to marry who he loves.

“Guess what? I’m going to be a married man in Minnesota,” he declared in the wake of Monday’s state Senate vote in favor of marriage equality. The Senate voted 37-30 in favor of the bill; last Thursday the House passed HF 1054 by a vote of 75-59.

Tuesday’s historic signing marks the culmination of an arduous journey toward equality and a 180-degree reversal from 1997, when the state legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Last November, Minnesota made history by becoming the first state where voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. Voters in more than 30 states had previously approved similar amendments.

Opponents of marriage equality expressed concerns about how the change will affect religious groups and others who don’t believe that gays and lesbians in love should have the same rights as straight couples.

US Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), the former presidential candidate who opined that gay families were not real families, and whose husband, ‘gay cure’ doctor Marcus Bachmann once called homosexuals “barbarians,” said she was “disappointed” that her state has affirmed the equality of its LGBT residents. Bachmann asserts that marriage equality “denies religious liberty to people who believe in traditional marriage and who do not want to be forced to violate their conscience and sincerely-held religious belief.”

Bachmann had earlier urged Minnesotans to wage “spiritual warfare” against gays and lesbians.

“You see if we retreat from our values and fail to make the case on issues like marriage – because it is one man, one woman – because God said it is,” she said at the Liberty Counsel’s Awakening 2013 conference last month. “Not because it’s poll tested – because God said it is.”

Don Lee, an Eagan resident who was part of a Capitol lawn protest against same-sex marriage, called Tuesday’s bill signing “the end of marriage as we know it in Minnesota.”

“It’s a transformation from a forward-looking sacrificial institution to one focused on adult desires,” Lee told the St. Cloud Times.

But far more people were in a celebratory mood.

“It’s been incredible in the last couple weeks in terms of marriage equality,” said Jake Loesch, communications director of the advocacy group Minnesotans United, referring to the fact that Minnesota is the third state this month, after Rhode Island and Delaware, to legalize gay marriage. “It is a very significant time in history. The energy is electric today, Loesch told MSNBC.

Minnesota now joins neighboring Iowa as the only other Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage. In total, 12 states, plus Washington, DC and three Native American tribes, have achieved marriage equality. Fourteen foreign countries have also legalized gay marriage.

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