In his historic ruling on marriage equality, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cited Minnesota’s marriage equality law as one of the reasons for his ruling. The creation of that law and the movement behind it was recalled Friday as marriage equality advocates celebrated the 5-4 ruling.
Minnesota was one of the important turning points in the march to marriage equality. In 2011, Republican majorities in the state’s legislature voted to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot banning same-sex marriage. Minnesota voters rejected the amendment and expelled Republicans from power, allowing a new majority to pass the marriage equality law just six months later.
“When we were thrust into a conversation we didn’t necessarily want to have, Minnesota reacted and you reacted and you came in droves to have really meaningful conversations about why marriage matters,” said the leader of the group that led the fight against the amendment. Richard Carlbom told a celebratory crowd Friday, “that was the turning point. November 2012, Minnesota was the first state in this country after 31 tries to defeat a very hurtful amendment, and then we shifted and won marriage six months later because of you.”
Since leaving Minnesotans United For All Families, Carlbom has been working for Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide.
“I’m really excited to tell you that as of today I’m unemployed. How ‘bout it!”
Carlbom says Freedom to Marry spent the day following how various states such as Alabama were implementing the Supreme Court decision. “In state after state, people are getting married today. People are getting married today because of what we did in Minnesota, because (of) what you did to invest in this. Thank you so much to everybody, every partner. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Minnesotan today. I couldn’t be prouder to be an American, a gay American today.”
“This country has changed forever. Congratulations for that.”
Ann Kaner-Roth, former Executive Director of the now defunct Project 515 and now Minnesota’s Deputy Secretary of State, said four years ago she didn’t think that in 2015 “we would be here celebrating such an amazing win.”
“We all know there is a tremendous amount of work to do in this country on LGBT issues,” said Kaner-Roth. “Today is a day to celebrate. To celebrate the families that told their stories, the plaintiffs that put their lives on the line, the elected officials that got us here, all of the heroes, all of the people that door-to-door-to-door talking to folks about why marriage matters. And that’s what gets us here today.”
“Love wins. Love is the law of the land,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, who co-authored Minnesota’s marriage equality law. He remembered the dark day in 2011 when the legislature voted to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. “When we emerged from that chamber and we began to chant, ‘we’ve just begun to fight’ that chant transitioned into ‘love will prevail’. We’ve showed them in Minnesota and now the whole country knows it’s true that love wins, love will prevail.”
“We helped make today possible. Thank you all so much.”
Dibble noted that President Obama talked about the acts of many people who had led up to today’s victory and made our union a little more perfect.
“We saw that happen in Minnesota when we defeated that amendment. 40,000 volunteers engaging in those conversations Richard Carlbom talked about. We made history.”
Dibble mentioned his friend has a 4-month-old child. “He will never know a world in which you can’t just simply marry the person you love. Think about that. How incredible is that?”
“Your work starts again on Monday because we are part of a larger movement of making this union more perfect. These struggles we have on race, police brutality, black lives matter, this is our movement, this is our struggle, we are a part of that.”
Rep. Karen Clark was a co-author of the marriage equality law. Because of its passage, she recently got married. “None of this would have been possible without the incredible movement you all were part of and we are really honored to be some of the people who helped carried the banner. But there’s no doubt we know the movement was created by people like in OutFront (Minnesota), and (Project) 515, in the whole community. So many of you took risks.”
She said on her drive in to the rally, she heard on the radio stories about groups that were planning to fight the ruling. “We know they’re going to try… but you know what, they can’t do it. They can’t do it. We are here. We are here to stay.”