Minnesota Makes Three: Marriage Equality Passes North Star State

by Charles Joughin

Six months after voters defeat anti-gay ban, Minnesota legislature approves marriage equality bill

WASHINGTON – Just six months after voters in Minnesota voted to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the state legislature today passed legislation providing equal access to civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples.  Once Gov. Mark Dayton signs the bill into law, Minnesota becomes the twelfth state with marriage equality and the third state this month to pass marriage equality legislation, following Rhode Island and Delaware. 

“Minnesota is a perfect example of the progress we’ve made on marriage equality in America,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.  “Voters in Minnesota brought anti-equality efforts to a screeching halt on Election Day, and today state leaders in St. Paul made it clear that all Minnesota families are equal in the eyes of the law.”

Leading into this year’s successful campaign to pass marriage equality legislation, HRC helped form the Minnesotans United coalition campaign to defeat the 2012 anti-marriage constitutional amendment that would have barred marriage equality in the North Star State.  HRC contributed more than $1.1 million to the historic 2012 campaign, which paved the way for this year’s victory.  In 2013 during the legislative campaign to win marriage equality, HRC sent over 170,000 emails and 6,000 text messages to HRC members and supporters in the state, generating nearly 7,500 messages and calls to key legislators.

“Minnesotans United benefited from having HRC staff on-the-ground here for over a year,” said Minnesotans United Campaign Director Richard Carlbom.  “HRC has been a terrific partner and their staff, volunteer, and financial support helped us secure victory.”

“Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for years of support in our efforts to build a movement and win equality in Minnesota,” said State Senator Scott Dibble.  “From staff on-the-ground, research, advice, to financial resources, HRC has been a valued and trusted team member working alongside our state and other national groups.  Thank you, HRC.”

A strong majority of Americans support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples including 70 percent of those born after 1980, according to a recent Pew Poll.  Earlier this month Rhode Island and Delaware became the tenth and eleventh states with marriage equality and the first since a series of sweeping victories at the ballot box on Election Day 2012 in Maine, Maryland and Washington.  Today over 56 million Americans – 18 percent of the population – live in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The state legislature in Illinois is also presently debating marriage equality legislation.  HRC is the only organization with staff on the ground full-time in each of the states debating marriage this year. 

The passage of marriage equality in Minnesota comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down decisions on two marriage-related cases by the end of June.  Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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