Almost a thousand supporters of same-sex marriage jammed the Capitol Rotunda Thursday to celebrate Valentine’s Day and spur efforts to open the way for same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
The words “Love is Love” echoed through the Capitol corridors as David Lohman directed a red-robed choir in a song written especially for the occasion:
We’re gonna keep on loving, no matter what the people say
We’re gonna keep on believing, come what may
And though they may not understand it now
They’re gonna get it one fine day:
That love is love
And they can’t take that away
Energized by last fall’s successful campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited same-sex marriages, freedom-to-marry supporters of all creeds and genders chanted along. Over a hundred pastors from all over Minnesota joined the crowd, striding down the steps leading from the House of Representatives to the Rotunda.
Many were the same religious leaders who worked on the anti-amendment campaign last year, urging their congregations to vote against the constitutional amendment. Pastor Grant Stevenson, who directed the faith portion of the campaign by Minnesotans United for All Families, kicked off the event by celebrating the ballot victory but also telling folks to look ahead.
“A state where everyone has the freedom to marry,” Stevenson said, laying out a vision of the future to a cheering crowd. “A state where we understand everyone who wants to commit to another in love, in an act of marriage, is free to do so and we’re proud of that.”
Sharing the spotlight was fellow Faith Campaign Director MacArthur Flournoy from Maryland. He also worked on the Maryland campaign for equality last fall. Maryland voters approved that ballot initiative, giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry in The Old Line State.
“We’re not just talking about just us,” said Flournoy. “You’re more inclusive than that. What you have said is that all families deserve equal protection under the law.”
The mood at the rally also seemed buoyed by Gov. Mark Dayton’s words last week in his State of the State Address, Feb. 6. Dayton said he would support a bill to allow same-sex couples the right to marry: “I want Minnesota to be a state which affirms that freedom for one means freedom for everyone,” Dayton said, “and where no one is told it is illegal to marry the person you love.”
A marriage equality bill is being crafted by DFL Rep. Karen Clark, but its prospects for passage remain uncertain.
But the cloudy political prospects of the effort did not dampen the enthusiasm in the Capitol on Valentine’s Day. One woman, who was there with her daughter and nephew (both of whom were holding homemade Valentine’s signs) said she wanted couples to enjoy the same joy as she does with her husband.
“I hope everyone can find someone that makes them happy, like my husband makes me happy,” said Kristin Howatt.
Linda Zlotnick has been in a relationship with her partner for 22 years. She said it’s time that they be allowed to marry and enjoy the protections and privileges other couples do. Zlotnick and her daughter, Della, worked to defeat the amendment and are planning on working on the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.
The demand for freedom is simple, and powerful. And so was the sign that Della proudly carried:
“Let My Moms Get Married.”