Minnesota Gov. Signs Marriage Equality into Law
Months after Minnesota voters declined to enshrine a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution, Gov. Mark Dayton today signed a bill that permits gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot.
“What a difference a year and an election can make in our state,” Dayton said at the signing. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should certainly include the right to marry the person you love.”
The state Senate passed the bill yesterday by a 37-30 vote after it advanced through the state House last week 75-59, and the governor wasted no time putting his signature on it. The law takes effect Aug. 1.
Minnesota becomes the twelfth state with marriage equality and the third to join the club this month alone, joining Rhode Island and Delaware which on May 2 and May 7 respectively, enacted laws opening up equal marriage rights to all couples, effective later in the summer.
Minnesota is the first Midwestern state to pass marriage equality through the legislature. Iowa previously extended marriage rights to same-sex couples through judicial ruling in 2009.
“Members, God made gays,” Minnesota state Sen. Ron Latz told the legislative body yesterday. “And God made gays capable of loving other people. So who are we to quarrel with God’s intentions?”
Fairness and Momentum
Equality advocates have applauded the measure. “Today, Minnesota has shown the nation the meaning of the words ‘fairness’ and ‘momentum,’” Jennifer C. Pizer, law and policy project director for Lambda Legal, said on the organization’s blog. “Minnesota’s tremendous success in allowing all couples to celebrate their love and commitment through marriage is in keeping with the state’s great traditions of freedom and fairness.”
Equality opponents, on the other hand, bizarrely claim that their religious liberty is somehow being trampled on.
Nevertheless, pubic opinion has maintained majority support for marriage equality since last year; a Gallup poll released Monday showed 53 percent of Americans in favor. A recent Pew poll found that 70 percent of people born after 1980 support gay marriage.
Last November, voters in Maine, Washington and Maryland became the first electorates to pass same-sex marriage through popular ballots, while Minnesotans turned down an opportunity to codify bigotry in their constitution. Before today, the state banned gay marriage through statute.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this term in Hollingsworth v. Perry on the constitutionality of a California ballot measure that banned gay marriage shortly after the state started granting marriage licenses to LGBT couples in 2008. The decision could potentially strike down same-sex marriage bans and bring marriage equality to all 50 states.