In the official kickoff of what will be a high profile lobbying effort to legalize gay marriage this session, more than a thousand activists, couples and clergy members filled the state Capitol rotunda on Valentine’s Day to show their support.
Supporters carrying rainbow flags and signs chanted “marriage equality now” on Thursday afternoon as House members entered into their scheduled floor session for the day. The headliners of the event, organized by campaign-turned-lobbying group Minnesotans United for All Families, were clergy members representing denominations and faith groups from around the state.
“The Legislature in 2011 gave us a little help,” said Grant Stevensen, who was faith director for Minnesotans United during the campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Supporters of gay marriage won that fight with about 5 percent of the vote on Nov. 6. “Now when we ask the question, now the answer has become clear: Now. Now is the time [to legalize gay marriage], and 2013 is the year.”
Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark, both openly gay DFL legislators from Minneapolis who will carry bills to legalize gay marriage this session, took the stage joined by colleagues from both chambers. Speaking to the crowd, Dibble encouraged everyone to reach out to their legislators.
“It’s time to start a conversation and build a relationship with your legislator. Tell them how much this matters,” he said. “This is the year” to legalize gay marriage, he added. “Let’s settle this once and for all.” Both bills will be introduced by the end of the month.
Dibble named off a handful of Democratic senators who joined him on stage and who support the move to legalize gay marriage. Some were from rural and/or swing districts. That list of senators includes Jeff Hayden, Bobby Joe Champion, Patricia Torres Ray, Sandy Pappas, Dick Cohen, Tony Lourey, Jim Carlson, John Marty, Vicki Jensen, Chris Eaton, Kari Dziedzic, Melisa Franzen and John Hoffman. DFL House Reps. Clark, Jim Davnie, Raymond Dehn, Susan Allen and Carolyn Laine were also on stage.