Rally for equal marriage rights draws supporters for legislation

The rally was held at the St. Paul Capitol grounds Thursday.

Senator John Marty (right) and member of OutFront Minnesota Kelly Louis (left) speak at a rally in support of “Freedom to Marry Week” at the State Capitol on Thursday. Senator Marty presented the Marriage and Family Act to the Minnesota state Senate that would make marriage laws gender-neutral in the state of Minnesota.

Paul Bangasser

Senator John Marty (right) and member of OutFront Minnesota Kelly Louis (left) speak at a rally in support of “Freedom to Marry Week” at the State Capitol on Thursday. Senator Marty presented the Marriage and Family Act to the Minnesota state Senate that would make marriage laws gender-neutral in the state of Minnesota.

Signs reading âÄúLegalize LoveâÄù and âÄúDefend All MarriagesâÄù scattered the St. Paul Capitol grounds Thursday âÄî âÄúFreedom to Marry DayâÄù âÄî as state representatives, political group leaders and GLBTA community members gathered to support the Marriage and Family Act, a bill that would make marriage laws gender neutral in Minnesota. State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, who co-authored the bill and was the main speaker at the event, said the approval of California âÄôs Proposition 8 to dissolve same-sex marriage was mean-spirited. âÄúThat action, while itâÄôs certainly unfortunate, shows us that itâÄôs time to move ahead in Minnesota, and show some leadership in this,âÄù Marty said. Representative Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, whose district includes much of the University of Minnesota, spoke at the rally and said this was a progressing movement. âÄúOne of the reasons this is moving forward is that people are starting to make connections with friends and family,âÄù Kahn said. âÄúItâÄôs not a strange thing that has nothing to do with them.âÄù University junior Kyle Edwards attended the rally as a continuing effort for awareness of GLBT issues. âÄúI have a few friends back in high school who first inspired me to work for their first-class citizenship,âÄù Edwards said, âÄúas opposed to not recognizing their relationships under law.âÄù Edwards, a political science major, said personal narratives were the most effective way of raising awareness on GLBT rights. âÄúOnce you realize you have friends or family affected by these kinds of things, people are much more likely to see both sides,âÄù he said. Kahn also co-authored the bill and introduced it to the state House of Representatives in May. Marty presented the act to the state Senate that same month. âÄúWith the economic woes we face in this state right now,âÄù Marty said, âÄúitâÄôs more important than ever that we take away the discrimination against couples.âÄù Most states do not recognize same-sex unions. MinnesotaâÄôs Legislature first voted unsuccessfully on the authorization in 1997. In 2004, 11 states, including Montana, Georgia and Ohio, amended their state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage. âÄúFreedom to Marry DayâÄù was organized by OutFront Minnesota as part of a national week-long awareness campaign to push for marriage equality. âÄúMy wife and I have been married for 28 years and it hasnâÄôt affected anyone elseâÄôs marriage. It was our decision,âÄù Marty said. âÄúWe voted on our marriage. We want you to vote on your own marriages.âÄù