US: Minnesota group to push for marriage equality

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The head of the group which led the campaign to vote ‘no’ on a bill which would have banned equal marriage, has said it will now push to legalise it, starting in the legislative session next month.

Richard Carlbom, the head of Minnesotans United for All Families, said for the first time that the group will now seek to lobby Minnesotan lawmakers in 2013, reported the Associated Press.

“Minnesotans were asked whether we should limit the freedom to marry in the last campaign, and they resoundingly said no,” Mr Carlbom said. “We believe it’s time to move forward from that.

He did go on to say that the campaign knew it was going to have a challenge ahead, in order to legalise marriage equality in the state. He said:

“I do not by any stretch presume we have a mandate,” Carlbom said. “I think we still have a lot of work to do to spark conversation about why marriage matters, and why we shouldn’t limit the freedom to marry. But at the end of the day, voters will reward those who grant freedom and punish those who try to limit it.”

Voters in Minnesota voted ‘no’ on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as being a union solely between a man and a woman, with only 47% choosing to vote ‘yes’.

Despite this, state law currently still prohibits same-sex marriages.

As Democrats are set to take over the Legislature in January, and with Mark Dayton, a supporter of marriage equality in the governor’s office, the group should have a more direct path to legalising equal marriage in the state.

However, Mr Dayton, and other Democrats, have voiced a reluctance to push for marriage equality in 2013, had cited the need to eliminate the $1.1 billion (£676 million) state budget deficit, and some had said they did not want to seem preoccupied with social issues, if they immediately started working towards marriage equality.

The group opposition to the idea, Minnesota for Marriage, said it will still fight against legalising marriage equality, and held a strategy session this week with supporters, as well as sending out a fundraising appeal on Thursday.

“Yes, we lost a battle, but the fight to preserve marriage is not over,” Minnesota for Marriage chairman, John Helmberger, said in the fundraising letter.

He continued that despite Amendment 1 not passing, it was supported by a majority of voters in 75 out of the 87 counties in Minnesota.

Mr Carlbom said that the new Minnesotans United for All Families was in the early stages of forming its strategy for pushing the Leglislature, and that he did not know what form the group would take.

Two Democrats, John Marty, Roseville Senator, and Representative, Alice Hausman, have said they plan to introduce a bill to legalise marriage equality immediately, when the Legislature convenes on 8 January.

After a vote on 6 November, WashingtonMaine and Maryland legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states.