Q: How did Minnesota legalize gay marriage?
A: Last November, Minnesotans surprisingly voted down a constitutional gay marriage ban — the first time that ever happened nationwide. That same election saw new Democratic majorities in the state Legislature, who soon voted to add Minnesota to the growing list of states to allow marriage between same-sex couples after a massive, well-funded lobbying campaign. It became the first Midwestern state to legalize gay marriage by a legislative vote.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law in May, and it took effect Aug. 1 amid much hoopla and a flood of gay weddings. An analysis by The Associated Press found that at least 1,640 same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in Minnesota already. Anecdotal evidence has shown at least a few couples have crossed over from border cities like Fargo, N.D., and Superior, Wis., to get married.
Q: So is this campaign going to work?
A: There's ample proof that gay couples who live in states that don't allow them to get married are willing to cross state lines to do so. "We thought it was important to be counted somewhere," said Erika Mauter, a Minneapolis graduate student who traveled to Vermont in 2010 to marry her longtime partner, Missy Weldy, at a time when gay marriage looked a long ways off in Minnesota.
Mauter and Weldy's marriage became legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1, and any Illinois gay couple that marries in Minnesota would likely receive the same instant recognition if Illinois finally crosses the gay marriage threshold. In addition, the federal government recently started recognizing gay marriages, creating yet another incentive for couples in states like Illinois to make it legal in Minnesota.