Marriage equality is officially coming to Minnesota on August 1. Rainbow flag-waiving supporters cheered during the outdoor ceremony on the steps of the Capitol in St. Paul Tuesday evening as Democratic Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law, making it the 12th state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
“Last year in the election, there was an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited marriage equality forever,” Democratic Governor Mark Dayton told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell in an exclusive interview Tuesday after signing the legislation. “Instead, we’re now we’re two-and-a-half months away from legalizing the freedom of marriage.”
In a historic measure, the state’s Democratic controlled Senate voted to pass the marriage equality bill on Monday, 37-30. Only one Republican, State Senator Branden Peterson, was a yes. A few more House Republicans got on board with the bill–four, to be exact–helping the House clear the legislative hurdle in a 75 to 59 vote last week.
Before Monday’s pivotal vote, Sen. Peterson had a message for his children: “To my kids, Cash and Paisley, they’re two and one so they don’t quite understand exactly what’s going on here, today. Regardless of whether you one day agree with my position on this issue, I just want to say that in all things related to your faith, to your freedom, to your family, be bold and be courageous and you’ll never regret a day in your life.”
Minnesota joined its neighboring state of Iowa to legalize gay marriage–the only two states in the Midwest to do so yet. But Minnesota did it directly through the legislative process. In the Hawkeye state, which has had it since 2009, it came as the result of to a state Supreme Court ruling.
The marriage equality debate has shifted dramatically among state lawmakers, Dayton himself noted on the Capitol steps: “What a difference a year and an election can make in our state.”
Two years ago, Republicans controlled both chambers and even added a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality to the ballot. That move eventually cost them: they lost that vote, and control of the state House and Senate.
Conservative Congresswoman Michele Bachmann doesn’t appear to be ready for the change sweeping her state. She tweeted on Monday, “I’m proud to have introduced the original traditional marriage amendment, and I thank all Minnesotans who have worked so hard on this issue.”
The LGBT movement has been building momentum the past few weeks. Delaware and Rhode Island also made marriage equality legal this past month.