Monday, May 13, 2013

Marriage Equality Comes to Minnesota

Write Patrick Condon and Brian Bakst of the Associated Press:

Minnesota is set to become the 12th U.S. state where gay couples can get married after a final legislative vote Monday that will let the weddings start on August 1.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the bill, and scheduled a ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the front steps of the Capitol in St. Paul to do so.

Minnesota is now the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage by legislative vote, and the third nationwide in just 10 days, joining Rhode Island and Delaware. Thousands of gay marriage supporters thronging the Capitol erupted into deafening cheers after the Senate's 37-30 vote; the House passed it last week on a 75-59 vote.

"Members, God made gays," Sen. Ron Latz, a Democrat from a suburb of Minneapolis, said during the Senate's emotional four-hour debate. "And God made gays capable of loving other people. So who are we to quarrel with God's intentions?"

Following are my photos, recollections and reflections on the historic day that marriage equality came to Minnesota!

Most of the photos I share in this post are mine. Of those that aren't, I provide credit to whomever did take them. Enjoy!

I spent much of Monday, May 13, 2013 at the Minnesota State Capitol, joining with others in showing support for the marriage equality legislation being debated and voted on by the Minnesota Senate. The House version of the bill was approved last Thursday, May 9. Its chief sponsor was Rep. Karen Clark. I wasn't present at the Capitol last Thursday for the historic House vote, but I was determined not to miss today's equally important Senate vote.

I arranged to take the day off from my part-job with Meals-on-Wheels and arrived at the Capitol steps at around 9:00 a.m. Minnesotans United for All Families had put the call out for supporters to be present at this time so as to greet legislators as they arrived. A pathway up the steps was formed, dotted with heart-shaped cut-outs in the orange and blue colors of the official marriage equality campaign.

My friends Jim Smith and Rose McMurray (above right), along with obliging folks in the crowd, helped me hold a banner that morning that read: "Catholics for LGBT Equality." The photo below of me holding the banner was snapped by Rose.

Above: Lots of young people were in attendance, full of energy and optimism! I always find this heartening! (Photo: Tony Nelson/City Pages)

Above: A great photo of my friend Paula Ruddy (right) sitting on the Capitol steps with Sabrina Brys Mauritz, Faith Organizer with Minnesotans United for All Families. (Photo: Bridget Bennett/Minnesota Daily)

Above: Minnesotans United volunteers distributing a placard upon which folks could complete the sentence:

I'm _____________ and I support the freedom to marry.

I saw all sorts of things written on these signs: "I'm a teacher . . .", "I'm the father of a gay son . . .", "I'm the daughter of two moms . . .", "I'm a Catholic . . .". The list goes on.

Above and below: Sen. Scott Dibble (right) and his husband Richard Leyva arrive at the Minnesota State Capitol for the Senate debate and vote on marriage equality legislation – May 13, 2013. Scott is the principal author and sponsor of the legislation, upon which the Senate was scheduled to commence debate at noon.

With time on our hands before the debate commenced, my friend Jim and I decided to get some breakfast at nearby Nina's Coffee Café. I then went home and uploaded the above image as The Wild Reed's "Photo of the Day."

Above: I returned to the Capitol at around 1:00 p.m. By now thousands had gathered in the rotunda and the balconies and hallways around it. I went up to the second floor and looked down at the singing, chanting and dancing crowd below me. The energy was amazing! There was so much hope and excitement in the air. A few anti-marriage equality folks were present but the overwhelming number of those who had gathered were joy-filled supporters of fairness, equality, and love for all.

Above right: Standing with my friend Lisa and another local Catholic woman supportive of marriage equality. You may recall that Lisa and her husband Brent feature in C4ME-MN's video series Catholics for Marriage Equality.

Above: As on a previous occasion, the unfurling of our Catholic banner at the Capitol on May 13 elicited a tremendous roar of approval from the assembled throng!

Above: My friend Amy Gabriel took this photo of me holding the 'Catholics for LGBT Equality' banner on the second floor balcony of the Capitol rotunda. It must have been soon after I arrived at around 1:00 p.m. as I'm still wearing what I call "my Brokeback Mountain jacket"!

I've been told that I was a regular feature on numerous media outlets' live steaming of the day's events – including those of the Star Tribune, KARE 11 News and Fox News. I'm sure that this was due to the fact that, quite by chance, I had placed our banner between a rainbow flag and an HRC equality flag. This combination of symbols and colors no doubt made for a good visual! Mind you, if I'd known I'd be featured so prominently I would have dressed up a bit more!

Above: Esera Tuaolo (center) was one of a number of people who led the singing in the Capitol Rotunda.

Above: A gay male couple with their self-amended t-shirts! These shirts originally contained a 'Vote No' message in relation to last year's anti-marriage equality 'marriage amendment.' Now, however, we were urging lawmakers to 'Vote Yes' on marriage equality legislation. Our opponents, who last year were advocating a 'Vote Yes' message' on the amendment, were now all about voting 'no' on marriage equality. It could get quite confusing at times!

Above: Watching the Senate debate on monitors set up in the Capitol hallways. (Photo: Tony Nelson/City Pages)

Above: Responding to the news that the Senate had just voted 37-30 in favor of marriage equality legislation. That's me in the green and white plaid shirt, happily caught up in the moment! The young gay male couple featured in a previous photo can be seen hugging each other in the foreground at left. (Photo: Molly Bloom/Minnesota Public Radio)

Above and below: Celebrating the good news of marriage equality in Minnesota! (Photos: Tony Nelson/City Pages)

Above: Sen. Scott Dibble, chief sponsor of Minnesota's marriage equality legislation in the Senate, addresses the crowd gathered in the Capitol rotunda. On his right is Rep. Karen Clark, chief sponsor of the House version of the marriage equality legislation. It was passed last Thursday, on a 75-59 vote.

Above: Carol Curoe (left) and her partner of 25 years, Susan, on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol – Monday, May 13, 2013.

Back in 2007 Carol co-authored Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story. In October of that year Carol and her dad, Robert, were scheduled to speak at a CPCSM event that I organized at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis. The Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis intervened, however, and banned the event from taking place on church property – a move that made national news. CPCSM's event featuring Carol and Robert went ahead on October 22, 2007, but at a new location – The House of the Beloved Disciple, a CPCSM-established center for progressive Catholics “dedicated to preserving Catholicism in the Spirit of Jesus.”

Robert died in 2011 at the age of 85. Like so many who worked tireless for the rights, dignity and acceptance of LGBT individuals, couples and families, he didn't live to witness the recent advances, such as the defeat of the 'marriage amendment' and the coming of marriage equality to Minnesota. Yet somehow I know that Robert and others, including the late MN state legislator Allan Spear and CPCSM co-founders Bill Kummer and David McCaffrey, are rejoicing with us today.

Related Off-site Links:
Minnesota Becomes 12th State to Legalize Gay Marriage – Baird Helgeson and Jim Ragsdale (Star Tribune, May 13, 2013).
In Historic Vote, Minnesota Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill – Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (Star Tribune, May 13, 2013).
Minnesota Senate Passes Gay Marriage, Governor to Sign – Patrick Condon and Brian Bakst (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, May 13, 2013).
Minnesota Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage; Sends to Dayton – Paul Tosto (Minnesota Public Radio, May 13, 2013).
Supporters, Opponents React to Gay Marriage Bill VoteKARE 11 News (May 13, 2013).
Same-Sex Marriage: Lobbying, Polling, Timing, Key Lawmakers Led to Victory – Catharine Richert (Minnesota Public Radio, May 14, 2013).
Gay Marriage in Minnesota: Another Milestone is Reached – Michelangelo Signorile (The Huffington Post, May 14, 2013).
Powerful Images from Minnesota the Day Same-Sex Marriage Was Legalized – Sarah Karlan (BuzzFeed, May 14, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – May 13, 2013
Karen Clark's Revolutionary Act: "Daring to Believe That People Can Change Their Hearts and Minds"
Two of the Most Inspiring Speeches of the Historic Minnesota House Hearing and Vote on Marriage Equality
Drawing the Circle Wide
At the Minnesota State Capitol, Two Big Steps Forward for Marriage Equality
"It'll Be Legal August 1st"
Both 'Marriage Amendment' AND 'Voter Photo ID Amendment' Rejected by Minnesota Voters
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds
The Minneapolis (and Online) Premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"

Images: Michael J. Bayly (unless where otherwise noted).


Unknown said...

These are great! Thank you!

Patricia Hughes Baumer said...

I feel privileged to know you, to rejoice with you, and to give thanks.

Philip Clark said...

How does it feel to join the club of states the guarantee liberty and justice for all??? You should be so proud, Michael! I certainly am. I know that it was due to many of your efforts that such a reality came into being in Minnesota today. Enjoy this day as best you possibly can!

Gail Daneker said...

Aren't you glad you didn't go back to Australia! Because of all you've done we are all celebrating. Thanks for all you're work.

Phil Attey said...

CONGRATULATIONS, MICHAEL! And thank you for your years of work, bringing Minnesota to today. You're a true American Hero (regardless of your sexy Aussie accent -- LOL). I hope you're celebrating tonight!

SJ Southwick said...

Minnesota, hats off to thee! You are indeed the Star of the North. And many heartfelt thanks to you, Michael, for your years of tireless hard work for equality for all God's children -- good on ya!

Joseph Palacios said...

Michael, congrats on your incredible victory that you were so instrumental in helping make happen! What a day of grace for Minnesotans. I will be with you in spirit at 5:00 today when the governor signs the bill. Abrazos, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you, Michael and many thanks to you and all those who worked so hard to achieve this goal for Minnesotans and all people really....and welcome to the out here in Washington State and we have had marriage equality since last November....bask in your deserve it!!

Michael Ferri
Coupeville, WA

McAuley Hentges said...

Love you, Michael. Thank you for all your amazing work.

Angela Hanson Shores said...

Congratulations on your win! I know you have worked hard and it is so just and well deserved!! Miss and love you! We need to get together!!

Laura Hetchler Kuntz said...

Absolutely adore the pics, including the prominent C4ME sign. THANK YOU so much for taking and sharing these, Michael, for those of us who could not be there.

Laura Hetchler Kuntz said...

Friends who were at the Capitol said the crowd applauded loudest when the 'Catholics for LGBT Equality' banner came out! So glad for a positive Catholic voice there.

Janet D said...

Thank you for this articulate, powerful and eloquent post. I am deeply moved by your pictures and writing.