Minnesota marriage milestone was years in the making
Marriage equality was signed into law this week in Minnesota by Gov. Mark Dayton and it will go into effect on Aug. 1. Minnesota is one of 12 states plus the District of Columbia to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, and while there may seem to be an unstoppable tide of victories now, the road to equality has been hard fought.
Marriage equality felt a long way off when, on May 21, 2011, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to place a proposed amendment to the constitution on the ballot that would ban marriage equality. To counter this ballot measure, the Task Force worked with Minnesotans United for All Families to organize a campaign across the state dedicating full-time organizers and serving in key positions.
We knew that wasn’t just important to win at the ballot box, how we won was also vital. That’s why we organized “Conversations with People You Know” trainings, in which people of faith were trained and had conversations with other people of faith about the need for equality. It’s why we collaborated with Catholics for Marriage Equality on a pro-equality music video. And why we helped build the power of the LGBT movement in Minnesota through house parties and local fundraisers.
The transformative nature of empowered people talking about why marriage equality matters led to the victory in Minnesota in November and built a massive movement in the state that led to the positive change we saw during this legislative session.
Our faith organizing manager, Kathleen Campisano, reflects on how the way the campaign inspired people to action was just as important as the constituent calls, visits and postcards.
As the marriage equality bill was debated in the Legislature, many legislators commented on how their opinions had evolved specifically because of the conversations they’d had with constituents who were willing to bravely share their own stories of love and commitment.
Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey stated on the legislative victory:
This has been a long journey of changing hearts and minds, of breaking down walls, of shining a spotlight on our common humanity. The many years of door-knocking, phone calls and poignant conversations about why marriage matters have made a difference. The transformative nature of people talking about their love and their lives is clear, as we see in reaching this milestone in Minnesota, and in the fact that a clear and growing majority of Americans supports the freedom to marry.
We congratulate Minnesotans United and everyone who worked so hard to secure marriage equality for all Minnesotans. We are proud to stand with them as a partner in this victory.
Minnesota was a personal battle for us — we have a Task Force office in Minneapolis, as well as many Task Force staff and friends there. We also held our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Minneapolis in 2011. The conference is the largest annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBT movement and its location moves each year. This unparalleled get-together builds the power of the local community, and Minnesota was no exception.
We know that the wins we’ve seen over the past six months in Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, Washington and Maryland are because of the movement building that has been happening for decades. At the Task Force, we’re committed to not only push for further state and federal victories, but to do it in a way that builds a transformational movement.