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Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:41

It's Official! Minnesota Becomes 12th State to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

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Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed a bill making gay marriage legal in Minnesota, the 12th state to take the step, as thousands of onlookers cheered.


“What a day for Minnesota!” Dayton, a Democrat, declared moments before putting his signature on a bill. “And what a difference a year and an election can make in our state.”


Washington Post Tuesday Evening, May 14


Original Commentary:

When progressives become pessimistic about the ongoing reign of the ruling elite status quo and corporate governance in DC, it is important to remember that some issues that benefit equality and the common good are moving forward in states and at the local level. When Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signs a state marriage equality bill just passed by the Minnesota Senate, it will become the 12th state to allow same sex marriages.

That is progress by any standard, when just a few years back the thought of major politicians of either party -- from any but the deepest blue states supporting this right -- was almost non-existent. Now, even the ever-cautious President Obama is backing it. The Christian Science Monitor reported, Gov. Dayton is expected to sign the legislation as early as today:

Minnesota moved one step closer to becoming the 12th US state to recognize same-sex marriage on Monday when the state Senate voted 37 to 30 to approve a bill establishing equal civil rights to marry for gay men and lesbians.Cheers flooded the Senate chamber and cascaded through the surrounding halls as word spread of the bill’s passage. Minnesota’s House of Representatives approved the measure last week and Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday.

If he does, Minnesota will become the third state this month to legalize same-sex marriage. The governor of Rhode Island signed a bill May 2, and Delaware's governor signed a bill on May 7. In Minnesota, same-sex marriages could begin as early as August 1.

The momentum toward achieving a progressive goal that seemed as far out of reach as serious gun control just a decade ago – or less – now has the momentum, with the wind at its back.

As The New Yorker notes:

Including Minnesota and Illinois, a total of twenty-two per cent of the American population will live in states that have marriage equality. If California rejoins that list at the end of next month, due to a Supreme Court decision overturning Proposition 8, its gay-marriage ban, either on procedural or substantive grounds, over a third of the United States population will live in a state with marriage equality.Minnesota has moved particularly quickly. It was only last November that its voters narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited same-sex marriage outright—the “no” vote then was only fifty-one per cent. It is hard to imagine Americans turning back from the trend toward marriage equality, and, in fact, the speed at which additional states are acting might even affect some of the Supreme Court Justices’ thinking about what their role on this issue should be.

A new Gallup poll, out on Monday morning, showed approval of same-sex marriage at fifty-three per cent, tying the highest level so far. This is the third time in a row that the approval rate is over fifty per cent. According to Gallup, that would mean that support for gay marriage has essentially doubled since it first tested the question, back in 1996, the year the Defense of Marriage Act was enacted. Now, the Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning DOMA as well.

There is cause for celebration in the advancing legal recognition of single sex marriage in and of itself.  There is also reason to rejoice in and renew a commitment to grassroots organization and education about progressive issues.

Gay marriage, it appears, will continue to face some setbacks, but it has crossed the tipping point in most of the nation.  Even if the Supreme Court does not restore equal marriage to California, the number of states recognizing marriage equality will continue to march forward.

That should be a lesson that not all efforts to achieve social progress should be concentrated at the federal level.

(Photo: Wikipedia)