Nearly a thousand Minnesotans cheered in the frigid hail and snow Thursday, urging state legislators to repeal the state’s law banning same-sex marriages.
Hosted by Minnesotans United for All Families and OutFront Minnesota, the event on the Capitol’s mall attracted students, families and couples from all corners of the state.
“It was a huge crowd despite the sleet and bad weather,” said Minnesotans United spokesman Jake Loesch. “That’s just a testament to how much people want this.”
Gov. Mark Dayton, who was sporting a University of Minnesota women’s hockey hat, spoke at the rally in favor of same-sex marriage.
“You have a constitutional right … to marry the person you love, no doubt about it,” he said.
Besides listening to speeches, rally-goers enjoyed live music, visited vending booths and chatted with legislators about changing the state’s marriage law to include same-sex couples..
Attendee Michael Johnson, a freshman at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, said legalizing same-sex marriage is important to him because he is gay and he wants to have the opportunity to marry someday in his home state.
“I want to be able to get married in Minnesota where all the people that love and care about me” live, he said.
Dayton assured the crowd of same-sex marriage supporters that the Legislature “will get this one through” and pass the same-sex marriage legislation, but he said it won’t be easy.
Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, author of the House’s bill, said they’re close to having enough votes to pass it, but there are still some legislators who are undecided or haven’t voiced their opinions.
The rally comes a day after Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, announced amending his civil unions bill – which is yet to receive its first hearing – by omitting the word “marriage” from the state law entirely and putting “civil union” in its place.
Kelly’s proposal, amended or not, has received heavy criticism from same-sex marriage supporters.
People don’t want to have civil unions, they want to be married, Dayton said at the rally.
Minnesota for Marriage, the main force behind keeping marriage as only one man and woman, is also against the civil unions proposal, spokeswoman Autumn Leva said.
“We believe marriage is the best policy for the state,” she said. “We believe it is the only policy we have that uniquely and purposely connects kids with their parents. That’s something worth keeping.”
Leva said the push for allowing same-sex marriages in the metro area doesn’t reflect the views of out-state Minnesota.
The bills, which have passed through both House and Senate committees, will be taken up by the full Legislature in the upcoming weeks.