Today, along with thousands of others who made it possible, I’ll be at Governor Dayton’s signing of the bill extending marriage to same-sex couples in Minnesota starting August 1. Obviously, this is the culmination of years of effort, but especially the hard work we’ve done since a constitutional amendment was first placed on the election ballot in the state two years ago. It’s one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent political history. By passing that amendment, the legislature unintentionally created a movement that really had not coalesced here.
As they have in every other state, opponents tried to claim that the law would endanger religious freedom. But these arguments were rebutted, as they have been elsewhere, by the singular observation that marriage laws as such do not create the legal conflicts opponents say they fear.
This is a moment to celebrate for those of us who believe that gay families can and should be protected through marriage, and do not see any evidence or reason to believe opposite-sex marriages will be hurt in the process. Nobody’s freedoms have been taken away. But some of my friends, including a couple who’ve been together for 26 years, will finally be able to marry.
We can’t be under any illusions that the path ahead will be easy or quick (barring a monumental Supreme Court decision). After a few more states, we will start to run up against constitutional amendments that were passed in a marriage panic a few years ago. Undoing them will not be as simple as citing polling data, even the data that show young people overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage. The thing about generational change is that it takes a generation to run its course.
But in one more state, in the heart of the country, and by legislative rather than judicial decision, there is no longer gay marriage. There is only marriage.
Twelve down, 38 to go.