On Tuesday, Minnesota became the 12th
state to legalize gay marriage as Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill
into law on the front steps of the Capitol in St. Paul.
A large crowd chanted “thank you”
as the governor put pen to paper, ending two years of back-and-forth
and the issue.
“What a day for Minnesota!” Dayton,
a Democrat, told the crowd, estimated at 6,000. “And what a
difference a year and an election can make in our state.”
The Minnesota Senate approved the
measure on Monday, 4 days after it cleared the House.
The issue has molded Minnesota politics
like no other in recent times, taking it from blue to red and back
again in 2 years.
In 2010, marriage equality foes
campaigned heavily in the state as Democrats increasingly came out in
support of the issue.
That year, conservative Republican
majorities regained control of the House and Senate and immediately
began pushing for a referendum on a constitutional amendment which
sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union.
Amendment supporters balked when the
GOP rejected broader language aimed at banning recognition of any
union other than marriage, which would have closed the door to civil
unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.
Minnesota voters, in a first, rejected
the amendment last fall and returned the House and Senate to
The stunning rebuke set the stage for a
new push to make Minnesota a marriage equality state.
Passage makes Minnesota the first
Midwestern state to legalize such unions with a legislative vote.
Gay and lesbian couples can begin
marrying on August 1, the same day Rhode Island's marriage law takes