For Minnesota gay marriage sponsors, it's personal

Governor signs bill legalizing same sex marriage.
Associated Press
May 15, 2013

As a crowd of thousands roared from the lawn of the state Capitol, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill Tuesday that makes gay marriage legal here come Aug. 1.

"What a day for Minnesota!" the Democratic governor declared, as American and rainbow flags flapped in a sweltering hot wind. The Minnesota State Patrol estimated about 6,000 people made up the massive crowd, and many headed to downtown St. Paul afterward for a street party celebrating the bill's passage.

Dayton's signature on the bill ended an intense two years for gay marriage supporters and opponents in this Midwestern state, which swung from a failed push to constitutionally ban same-sex weddings into a successful bid to becoming the 12th state to affirm them.

Watching over Dayton's shoulder as he signed the bill were the measure's two chief sponsors, Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble. For them, it was vindication for a long and sometimes demoralizing struggle for gay rights.

"I thought it would happen someday, but I didn't know I would be able to be here to be part of it," Clark said Tuesday, a few hours before the ceremony. Clark can now marry her partner of 24 years, in the only state she's ever lived.

The longest-serving openly gay lawmaker in the country, Clark, 67, had already been out of the closet for a decade when she was elected to the Legislature in 1980. She grew up on a farm in Rock County, in the state's southwestern corner, and came out to her parents, now both dead, in her mid-20s.

"The very first thing my mother said was, 'I will always love you,'" Clark recalled.

In 1993, her by-then elderly parents marched with her in the Minneapolis gay pride parade a few weeks after she led the effort to extend Minnesota's civil rights protections to gay people.

But by 1997, the same Legislature passed the "Defense of Marriage Act," which restricted marriage to only opposite-sex couples. A year later, Clark introduced a bill to repeal it and allow gay marriage.

It took 16 years to get to this week, which comes two years after the 2011 Legislature — then controlled by Republicans — put an amendment on the statewide ballot asking voters to cement the existing gay marriage ban in the state constitution. Minnesota became the first state to reject such a ban after more were passed in more than 30 states, and is now the first state in the Midwest to approve gay marriage by a legislative vote.

"It was hard because it was very personal," Dibble said of the 2011 vote to put the amendment on the ballot. "People whom I had counted as very, very good friends voted for it."

Dibble, 47, graduated from high school in the Minneapolis suburb of Apple Valley and came out in college. He cut his teeth politically in the late 1980s as a member of the Minnesota chapter of ACT UP, a gay civil rights group that engaged in civil disobedience out of anger toward government neglect of AIDS and HIV sufferers. He got an early chance to join the establishment from Clark, who tapped him to run one of her re-election campaigns.

"I pulled him from street politics," she said.

Dibble was elected to the Minnesota House in 2000, and to the state Senate in 2002. He holds the southwest Minneapolis seat once occupied by Allan Spear, who in 1974 became one of the very first U.S. elected officials to come out of the closet. At Tuesday's bill signing, Dibble took time to thank Spear, who died in 2008.

While Dibble's district includes many of Minneapolis' trendiest neighborhoods, Clark's just to the east is marked by public housing towers and large populations of new immigrants.

"She is a huge, huge voice for the poor and the disenfranchised and the dispossessed," Dibble said.

But Clark continued through her career to make a mark for gay rights: During former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2006 State of the State speech, Clark stood up on the House floor and turned her back to the governor as he endorsed a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Not long after that, the first stirrings of legal same-sex marriage started to surface around the country. In 2008, Dibble and his husband, Richard Levya, were married in California, where Levya is still a part-time resident. While a judge later struck down gay marriage in that state, marriages that already occurred were not nullified.

Levya stood next to Dibble on Tuesday as Dayton signed the bill. Dibble said they won't remarry in Minnesota, but will have an affirming ceremony.

Clark and her partner Jacquelyn Zita, who also was at the bill signing, plan to make their marriage official in Minnesota. They haven't picked a date, but Clark envisioned a wedding on the farm they own north of Minneapolis.

"It will be small, probably just friends and family," Clark said. "We're actually very private people."

___

Follow Patrick Condon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pcondonap .

 

Comments

The Answer Person

Maybe Ohio will wake up and break the shackles of oppression in a state where you can still be FIRED for just being gay.

rec8888

So we continue to slide down the tube of decent, moral, normal living and stray into a life of destruction. Cant even imagine the sort of loons we will have walking this earth 10-20 years from now, thats if there still a earth 10- 20 years from now. Can you imgine the medical costs for those that have HIV and the other deseases caused from this way of life? God Help Us!!!!

44846GWP

Your ignorance on HIV is a shame, considering it's 2013 and not 1985. Get an education.

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

BREAKING: Internal Revenue Service targeted Christian ministries that opposed gay marriage. <----stories the Sandusky Register refuse to cover.

Eph 2 8-10
NotForLong

An above comment states: "Can you imgine the medical costs for those that have HIV and the other deseases caused from this way of life?"

What way of life is that??? Certainly not any different than those who engage in promiscuous, or even unprotected, sexual behavior with hetero partners. FYI- STD's (sexually transmitted disease), AIDS and HIV doesn't just affect the gay and lesbian population. If any person (gay or straight) engages in unprotected sex, they run the same risks. This has nothing to do with "decent, moral, normal" living. This has to do with you finding it to be some type of personal affront in regards to those who choose to live a different lifestyle than you choose for yourself. You don't have to like it. You don't even have to agree with it. But you do not have the right to tell someone else who they are allowed to love. People deserve the same legal rights afforded to others regardless of if they fit into your "moral" code or not.
I'm proud to call myself a Minnesotan today. I lived in Sandusky and had to move away because of the lack of viable employment, the extensive drug use and crime. Perhaps your time would be better spent worrying about those people who are destroying your community and not what others are doing behind closed doors.

deertracker

Agreed!

Darwin's choice

Thanks for leaving....

NotForLong

I was more than happy to do so.

concernedtruth

What a sad day for morals in the United States. They took prayer out of school, then they legalized the murdering of innocent children and called it abortion, now gay marriage and the idea of a Godly sanctified marriage is being thrown out, your trying to take away my rights to bear arms, well you did all the things satan wants you to do what next outlaw free speech and the belief in a Supreme God who holds all men and women accountable for their actions as well as words. Try that and see what happens. I am against gay marriage it speaks right in the bible how homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord. He and I do not hate the homosexual, we hate what they do, just like anyone who sins, you hate the sin not the sinner. I will pray for that and other states that have allowed this.

TrollingRageind...

You are the kind of person ruining this country. You christians can't even read your book the way you were to read starting in kindergarten. To actually understand what is says. You even call Satan the evil one when he did not lie, kill, or trick once in the bible, but guess who did, your "supreme god." Go over to Africa and tell those people living in terrible conditions how much your god loves them.
I think marriage is a stupid, primitive concept in the first place, but allowing gay marriage is a step in the right direction, the direction of FINALLY separating church and state.
If there is a god, and he/she/they are "good," then they probably aren't all powerful.
Next, big brother should take away the tax exemption of religious places of worship. Maybe I should start a petition to try to make it happen.

44846GWP

concernedtruth......wow...what a crack pot.

NotForLong

It's not the government's job to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality. Nor is it in a position to judge the marriages of its citizens. Once the government does this, where does it stop? Taxpayers are forced to pay for things that they are opposed to or are offended by. For instance, some do not support military force but still must pay into the military's budget. It's not the government's job to tap dance around the religious concerns of Americans; it is the government's job to enforce the constitution. The Constitution says everyone gets 'equality under the law'.

Civil marriage is a government institution that grants hundreds of state rights and over 1,000 federal rights. When a couple goes to the County Clerk's office for a marriage license, religion plays no role. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of the bible or any other religious text. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes marriage in the bible -- for example, at least in the Old Testament, polygamy is permitted, since several of the biblical figures had multiple wives. And, kidnapping, rape and slavery are all suggested as valid means for obtaining a wife.
Although gay people have had religious wedding ceremonies performed, many in the freedom to marry movement are not asking for religions to accept same-sex couples' vows. The issue is a civil marriage, not religious weddings.

Contango

Good points.

IMO: Polygamy is one of the next battles.

eriemom

The moral majority is quickly becoming the judgmental minority.

thinkagain

The immoral minority are happy this country is full of imbeciles, who embrace whatever pablum the mainstream media feeds them, even though they don't have the slightest idea what the end result will be.

As Christians, we know that sin and immorality will eventually overtake the earth.

Everyone has a date with eternity whether he or she believes it or not.

meowmix

thinkagain: Would you mind sharing the direct line number you have with the almighty with the rest of us? Nah, never mind, I certainly don't want to be such a judgemental, intolerant being like yourself. I'd prefer to practice the live and let live lifestyle that I THINK is what the decent, human thing to do.

thinkagain

You don’t need a phone to get in touch with your Creator. He’s speaking to you right now. That still small voice offering you the experiential reality of the assurance of salvation and eternal life, enjoyed by each person who has ever placed his personal faith in the living Christ.

Kottage Kat

Think again
AMEN

Kat

Contango

IMO: States' rights issue.

luvblues2

States don't have rights Contango. Otherwise, every state south of the Mason-Dixon line would be another country. ;)

Contango

"Another country"? Spend some time in TX.

Though heavily bruised and battered, the 10th Amend. still exists.

IMO: Abortion is also a states' rights issue. Would love to see states like NY abort their liberal butts into oblivion.

luvblues2

Yeah, I lived in Arizona for three years. It was very different than the North Coast. Doesn't matter. The states rights issue doesn't have any teeth left, it seems.

Contango

"...states rights issue doesn't have any teeth left, it seems."

Though I will agree with you 'in principle' that Federalism is dead, I would beg to differ in reality:

This gay issue, CO & WA regarding ganja and NV, NJ and DE on internet gaming - to name a few.

luvblues2

We have yet to see if those issues pan out. They may be carved in stone as far as the states are concerned, but the feds ain't buyin' it. Just as they didn't buy the Confederate States of America. Frip, I remember helpin' my lil bro move to Florida. When we crossed the border from Georgia into Florida, there were two of the biggest flags I've ever seen. In a real nice wind as well. One was the star spangled banner, the other was the flag we know as the "stars and bars". Both flying on different poles, same height, at full mast.

Below that was a big sign that read, "Welcome to Florida".

44846GWP

Winnie, ever hear of The UNITED states of America? Its not The 50 Seperate States of America.

happyfeet64

As I'm reading this my 15 y.o. is getting ready for school and has been listening to John Mellencamp "Peaceful World" and Pink "Dear Mr. President" how ironic! And sad!