By Don Davis
Today is a day same-sex couples throughout Minnesota celebrate their newly legal marriages and a day when conservative groups pledge to continue their fight against gay marriage.
Hours after a new state law allowed gays to wed, those who have fought gay marriage for years announced they will work in 2014 to defeat state House members who voted for gay marriage in May. Senators do not face re-election until 2016.
“The majority of Minnesotans support marriage between one man and one woman, and they deserve a majority of representatives in their government who do as well,” said John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage and CEO of Minnesota Family Council. “The Marriage Majority Initiative will serve as a resource to Minnesotans who want to see a pro-Marriage majority restored in the Minnesota House.”
Democrats control the House and most favored gay marriage and most Republicans opposed it when they voted in May to overturn existing law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
“While pastors and churches will not be forced to participate in ‘the solemnization or celebration’ of same-sex marriage, the rest of us will be, or will face fines under the state’s Human Rights Act,” Helmberger said.
Pro-gay marriage forces have been collecting money for weeks to support lawmakers, especially from rural areas, whose vote in favor of gay marriage could hurt their re-election chances.
The conservative groups’ comments came as those who favor gay marriage were elated after dozens of Minnesota couples were married in the minutes and hours after the new law took effect.
“Moments like this are powerful reminders of how politics can change lives for the better,” Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party wrote to supporters this morning. “I hope you’ll join me in recognizing this special occasion by thanking the DFL leaders who helped make it happen. This is also the perfect time to congratulate the newlyweds.”
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., congratulated newlywed gay couples. A staff member handed out pink roses to 46 couples wed in Minneapolis City Hall early today, including a note about a tradition in his 37-year-marriage: “I give these to Franni every year on our anniversary and so far it’s worked. Wishing you as much happiness as we’ve had over the years.”
Minnesota lawmakers in May voted to allow gay marriages and Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law May 14 in front of one of the largest state Capitol crowds in recent years.
The law gives gay couples the same rights as straight couples, such as the ability to take part in health-care decisions.