Last year’s defeat of a ballot measure seeking to amend the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage was a hard-won victory for proponents of marriage equality, who came into the campaign with a historical disadvantage. Conservative groups had successfully passed similar amendments in 30 other states before the issue was put to Minnesota voters in November. Now, same-sex marriage supporters hope to turn the momentum of their electoral victory into lasting change as they seek to make Minnesota the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The group leading the effort to defeat the amendment, Minnesotans United for All Families, is already raising funds for the push to legalize same-sex marriage.
“The conversation did not end on Election Day,” said Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom. “I see this as a continuation. Our goal is to bring this full circle.”
The power of conversation, many say, is in fact the reason Minnesotans United was able to defeat the ballot amendment. The campaign received donations from close to 100,000 supporters and mobilized over 26,000 volunteers to start conversations about value of marriage and the importance of equal rights for all Minnesotans.
Yet it remains uncertain whether legalizing same-sex marriage is a conversation Minnesota lawmakers are ready to have this year. The outcome of the elections meant big change for Minnesota in more ways than one. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) regained control of the House in November, so for the first time since 1990, Minn. lawmakers will enter session with a DFL governor in office and DFL majority in the state legislature. Same-sex marriage supporters see the next two years — before Governor Mark Dayton, a vocal supporter of marriage equality, faces re-election — as an opportune time to push for legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
But DFL legislators are hesitant to put the same-sex marriage question at the top of their agenda, stating that issues such as the governor’s push for changes in the tax code, and the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, will take precedence over social issues.
The push by Minnesotans United comes as no surprise to Frank Schubert, the California-based consultant who led Minnesota for Marriage, the campaign to ban same-sex marriage. “This is exactly what we said they would do,” commented Schubert in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Whether same-sex marriage is an issue the Minn. legislature is ready to pick up in the 2013 session remains to be seen. However, there is little doubt that both sides of the argument are ready for another round in the public arena.