The Freedom to Marry in Minnesota

Winning Marriage: August 1, 2013

Same-sex couples began marrying in Minnesota on August 1, 2013 after Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the freedom to marry into law on May 14, 2013. The bill’s passage came shortly on the heels of marriage supporters making history by defeating an anti-marriage constitutional amendment at the ballot in Minnesota in November 2012.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • May 18, 1970: A same-sex couple, Richard Baker and James McConnell, apply for a marriage license in Minneapolis, and the request is denied. Baker and McConnell file a legal case, which is dismissed by a lower court, then appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which affirms the lower court’s dismissal. The case, Baker v. Nelson, is the centerpiece of the first wave of marriage litigation in the 1970s.
  • October 10, 1972: Baker and McConnell appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which dismisses the case “for want of a substantial federal question.”
  • June 2, 1997: The Minnesota Legislature passes a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples.  
  • 1998-2012: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Minnesota take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • May 21, 2011: The Minnesota Legislature passes a bill to place a proposed anti-marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot for November 2012.
  • November 6, 2012: Minnesota becomes the first state to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry (and successfully hold the win).
  • April 2013: Polling in Minnesota tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • February 27, 2013: Legislators in Minnesota, in a move championed by Minnesotans United for All Families, introduce a bill to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.
  • May 14, 2013: Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signs the freedom to marry into law following the Minnesota Legislature’s passage of a marriage bill the day before.
  • August 1, 2013: The freedom to marry takes effect statewide and allows same-sex couples to marry.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, bringing the freedom to marry nationwide once and for all.

Groups the Worked on Marriage:

  • Minnesotans United for All Families was a coalition of organizations dedicated to defeating the constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota. The campaign went on to lead the effort to win the freedom to marry in Minnesota.
  • OutFront Minnesota is the central statewide organization leading a multi-year campaign for marriage in Minnesota.
  • Project 515 was a focused initiative with a specific, achievable goal: to ensure that same-sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law.
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage nationwide for all loving and committed couples.