Last Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton became MinnesotaâÄôs first sitting governor to attend the stateâÄôs largest annual gay rights gathering at the state Capitol. This is yet another welcome departure from former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who opposed legalizing same-sex marriage.
In a passionate speech, Dayton threw his support behind marriage equality and pledged to block Republican attempts to defund anti-bullying programs in public schools.
Dayton deserves commendation for bringing attention to this significant social issue. With Republicans in control of both the state House and Senate, the gay community has legitimate reasons to be concerned.
While the battle over the stateâÄôs $5 billion deficit has dominated this legislative session, itâÄôs important to make sure gay rights donâÄôt go ignored âÄî or worse, get rolled back. Some Republicans want to hold a statewide vote in 2012 on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The Minnesota Family Council is looking to raise more than $4 million in support of the campaign to ban same-sex marriage. It claims that three-fourths of Minnesotans want to put the measure to a vote.
ItâÄôs terrific that MinnesotaâÄôs governor supports marriage rights, but he canâÄôt block lawmakers from putting constitutional amendments on the ballot. In the end, it may be up to Minnesotans themselves to prevent a ban on gay marriage.
Though the budget shortfall has drowned out many social issues, supporters of gay rights should not let this issue go ignored or let attempts to roll back gay rights go uncontested. Dayton did well to remind fair-minded Minnesotans of that.