Minnesota to Become 12th U.S. State to Allow Same-Sex Couples to Marry

Two young Italian girls, both dressed as bride advocating for same-sex marriage at the 2010 Gay Pride in Rome

The Minnesota state legislature today passed historic freedom to marry legislation which will make Minnesota the 12th state in the nation – plus the District of Columbia – to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

The legislation will extend the freedom to marry to more than 10,000 same-sex couples who currently live in the state, according to 2010 census data. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is set to sign the bill into law tomorrow, and it will take effect on August 1st.

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Today’s victory in Minnesota comes on the heels of state laws in Rhode Island and Delaware, with Illinois expected to vote on similar legislation in the coming weeks. A map of all state laws can be found here.

“Minnesota is a perfect example of the progress we’ve made on marriage equality in America,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.  “Voters in Minnesota brought anti-equality efforts to a screeching halt on Election Day, and today state leaders in St. Paul made it clear that all Minnesota families are equal in the eyes of the law.”

Thalia Zepatos, Freedom to Marry director of public engagement and advisor to Minnesotans United for All Families, said,“After last week’s strong showing of support, legislators finished the job today, standing up for fairness and dignity for all Minnesota families. Coming on the heels of victories in Rhode Island and Delaware, this win for marriage shows that the freedom to marry is a value that Americans across the country stand behind.”

Over the last several months, a broad coalition of business leaders, clergy members, Democrats and Republicans have come together to support freedom to marry legislation in Minnesota. And, not only do a growing majority of Minnesotans believe that loving and committed gay couples should be able to get married, there is also an added economic benefit to the state. Allowing gay couples to marry is expected to “add $42 million to the state’s economy and $3 million in tax revenue in the first three years,” according to an analysis reported in the Pioneer Press.

As state legislatures across the nation work to allow marriage for same-sex couples, recent Washington Post/ABC polling shows that 58 percent of Americans support the freedom to marry, including more than half of all Republicans and right-leaning Independents under age 30. An April 2013 state-by-state analysis by the Williams Instituteshowed that support for the freedom to marry has grown in every state in the nation over the last eight years by an average of 13.6 percent. By the end of 2012, when the Institute finalized its data, support for the freedom to marry was at or above 50 percent in 12 states and the District of Columbia and was within five percentage points of majority support in 13 additional states.

Yet, despite the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry and recent momentum in state legislatures around the country, 38 states still do not allow same-sex couples to marry. The federal government also still cannot recognize legally married same-sex couples because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The law, passed by congress in 1996, denies legally married same-sex couples more than 1,100 federal benefits and protections that straight married couples are granted automatically.

The growing support for marriage across the country makes the two historic cases before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ‘Prop 8’ ban on marriage for same-sex couples all the more important. Until DOMA Section 3 is eliminated, gay couples who are legally married in their home states will continue to be treated as second-class citizens by the federal government. The court also has the opportunity to strike down discriminatory and unconstitutional laws like Prop 8 that explicitly prohibit gay Americans from exercising their fundamental freedom to marry.  For these reasons, a broad range of marriage supporters – including 214 members of Congress, 131 top Republicans, more than 300 leading companies, 30 former military and defense officials, and dozens of religious, labor, legal, and family health organizations – filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex couples.

For more information visit RespectForMarriage.org.

Photo By Blackcat (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Two young Italian girls, both dressed as bride advocating for same-sex marriage at the 2010 Gay Pride in Rome