American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

States to Watch: Minnesota

AFER is making the case for full federal marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, but there are several states which may see movement before a June 2013 decision. See more states to watch >

Despite the landslide victory for marriage equality during November’s election, gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota are still unable to get married.  While we won all states where marriage was on the ballot, our victory in Minnesota was against a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

Currently, Minnesota bans the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian couples by statute. The initiative on the November ballot would have added a constitutional amendment, which is much harder to undo.

But on the heels of November’s victory, new momentum is gaining to pass marriage equality legislation.


To be signed into law, marriage equality legislation would have to clear the states House of Representatives (134 seats, 39 Democrat, 28 Republican) and Senate (67 seats, 73 Democrat, 61 Republican), and be signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton (D).

Public Opinion

A May 2011 Public Policy poll found that 45% of Minnesota voters supported marriage equality, compared to 45% against and 9% unsure. Fast forward to November 2012 when the same survey found 49% support, 41% opposed and 9% unsure. The proposed amendment in November was defeated 51% to 48%.

As part of the campaign to defeat Amendment 1, Minnesotans United for All Families launched an impressive door to door effort, encouraging millions of personal conversations about marriage equality, and blanketed the state with affirming TV ads.

Sorted History

Minnesota is home to the first lawsuit where a gay or lesbian couple sued over marriage rights. In 1971, the State Supreme Court ruled in Baker v Nelson that a law limited marriage to opposite couples did not violate the state constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case at the time “for want of a substantial federal question.”