Same-sex marriage in Minnesota

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Same-sex marriage is fully legal and recognized in the U.S. state of Minnesota. Same-sex marriages have been recognized if performed in other jurisdictions since July 1, 2013, and the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on August 1, 2013. After 51.9% of state voters rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in November 2012, the Minnesota Legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill in May 2013, which Governor Mark Dayton signed on May 14, 2013. Minnesota was the second state in the Midwest, after Iowa, to legalize marriage between same-sex couples[1] and the first in the region to do so by enacting legislation rather than by court order. Minnesota was the first state to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, though Arizona rejected one in 2006 that banned all legal recognition and later approved one banning only marriage.

Minnesota is also where one of the first same-sex marriage cases in the world took place. In Baker v. Nelson, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously held in 1972 that it did not violate the U.S. Constitution to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case on appeal.


Baker v. Nelson was the first case in United States history in which a same-sex couple sued over marriage rights. In 1971, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota's laws prohibited marriages between same-sex partners and did not violate the Federal Constitution.[2] On October 10, 1972, the Supreme Court, declining to hear the case on appeal, issued a one-sentence order that said: "The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question."[3] The couple in question, Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, successfully obtained a marriage license from the Blue Earth County Clerk in 1971, after Baker had changed his name to Pat Lyn leading county officials to assume they were a heterosexual couple. After years of legal litigation, on February 16, 2019 the Social Security Administration declared their marriage legal.[4]

Responding to the State Supreme Court ruling, in June 1972, at the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) State Convention, delegates voted to add a plank to the party platform supporting same-sex marriage rights.[5] This is the first known case of support by a major United States political party for same-sex marriage, though it is worth noting that many DFL state representatives disassociated themselves from the plank and the DFL party rules subsequently changed to make amendments to the party platform much harder to achieve for future conventions.[6]

In May 2010, Marry Me Minnesota, a gay rights organization, sued the state of Minnesota, challenging the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1997.[7] The trial court dismissed the suit in March 2011, citing Baker v. Nelson as "binding precedent." Marry Me Minnesota, founded by same-sex couples for the purpose of suing the state, announced plans to appeal the decision.[8]

Efforts to amend the State Constitution[edit]

Julian Bond and Governor Mark Dayton at a "Vote No" rally against Minnesota Amendment 1 in June 2012.

In 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009, bills were introduced into the Minnesota House and Senate to have Minnesota voters consider an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, restricting marriage to unions between a man and a woman and outlawing civil unions that offer comparable rights.

On May 11, 2011, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill to place a proposed amendment to the State Constitution on the ballot that would ban same-sex marriage, though not civil unions. The question presented to voters on the ballot read: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"[9] The amendment was defeated by Minnesota voters, making Minnesota the first U.S. state to reject a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Arizona rejected a ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions in 2006 and then adopted a ban on only same-sex marriages in 2008. Minnesota's constitutional amendment proposal was rejected by 51.9% of voters.[10]


The first same-sex wedding in Minneapolis

In 1997, the State Legislature passed a statutory ban on same-sex marriage shortly after passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.[11]

Late in 2008, State Senator John Marty, DFL-Roseville, announced plans to introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.[12] On February 19, 2009, a bill to allow civil unions in Minnesota was introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives sponsored by Reps. Joe Mullery, Mindy Greiling, and Tom Tillberry. On March 5, 2009, a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Minnesota was introduced in the Minnesota Senate. Its authors were Senators Scott Dibble, Linda Higgins, John Marty, Mee Moua, and Patricia Torres Ray.[13] The bill failed to get a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In December 2012, Representative Alice Hausman and Senator Marty announced plans to introduce same-sex marriage legislation in 2013. They and legislative leaders expressed varying views on its prospects.[14] In January 2013, Dibble said Democrats planned to focus early in the session on "kitchen-table issues" of improving the economy and creating jobs and would wait at least a month or two before pressing for the legalization of same-sex marriage.[15] On February 28, 2013, HF 1054, officially titled Marriage between two persons provided for, and exemptions and protections based in religious associations provided for,[16] was introduced in the Minnesota Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.[17] On March 12, both the Senate and House policy committees passed the same version of the marriage bill, Senate Bill SF925 and House Bill HF1054.[18] Other committees of each chamber reviewed the financial impact of the legislation on 6 and 7 May.[19] On May 9, 2013, the House passed the legislation by a vote of 75-59, with all but two Democrats voting for the bill and all but four Republicans voting against.[20] On May 13, 2013, the Senate passed the bill on a vote of 37-30, with all but three Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican voting against.[21] Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on May 14, 2013, on the south steps of the Minnesota State Capitol before a crowd of 6,000 people.[22] Under the provisions of the legislation, the first same-sex marriage were likely to take place on August 1, 2013.[23] The legislation also gives Minnesota courts authority over divorce proceedings in the case of a same-sex couple married in Minnesota when neither party resides in a state that recognizes their marriage.[24] Some Minnesota counties announced plans to make marriage licenses available as early as June 6.[25]

The law took effect on July 1, 2013, and Minnesota has recognized the validity of same-sex marriage from other jurisdictions since then. The state began issuing its own marriage certificates to same-sex couples on August 1, 2013.[26] Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were the first couple to be married in Minneapolis at midnight on August 1, 2013, in a ceremony at Minneapolis City Hall officiated by Mayor R.T. Rybak.[27] The definition of marriage in the state of Minnesota is now the following:[28]

A civil marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between two persons, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential

Marriage statistics[edit]

At least 1,640 same-sex couples married in Minnesota from August to September 2013, representing one-third of all marriages celebrated during that time. 75% of same-sex marriage licenses were issued in Hennepin County and Ramsey County. Approximately 1,433 marriage licenses were issued in the twelve counties that rejected Minnesota Amendment 1 in 2012, the constitutional amendment which sought to ban same-sex marriage. Of the counties that favored the amendment, Clay County issued the most marriage licenses with 31. Other counties including Cook County issued seven licenses, while Aitkin County and Lyon County issued two licenses each.[29]

The Minnesota State Demographer's office announced that as of July 1, 2016 there were 8,594 households that included same-sex married couples.[30]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Minnesota
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
Public Religion Research Institute April 5-December 23, 2017 1,412 ? 67% 27% 6%
Public Religion Research Institute May 18, 2016-January 10, 2017 2,060 ? 63% 27% 10%
Public Religion Research Institute April 29, 2015-January 7, 2016 1,496 ? 57% 37% 6%
Edison Research November 4, 2014 ? ? 58% 39% 3%
58% 39% 3%
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20-October 1, 2014 2,562 likely voters ± 2.2% 52% 34% 13%
Public Religion Research Institute April 2, 2014-January 4, 2015 1,035 ? 58% 33% 8%
Star Tribune Minnesota June 11–13, 2013 800 adults ± 3.5% 46% 44% 10%
SurveyUSA April 19–21, 2014 500 adults ± 4.5% 51% 47% 2%
Public Policy Polling January 18–20, 2013 1,065 voters ± 3% 47% 45% 8%
Public Policy Polling November 2–3, 2012 1,164 likely voters ± 2.9% 49% 41% 10%
Public Policy Polling October 5–8, 2012 937 likely voters ± 3.2% 47% 43% 10%
Public Policy Polling September 10–11, 2012 824 likely voters ± 3.4% 43% 46% 11%
Public Policy Polling May 31-June 3, 2012 973 voters ± 3.1% 47% 42% 11%
Public Policy Polling January 21–22, 2012 1,236 voters ± 2.8% 43% 47% 10%
Public Policy Polling May 27–30, 2011 1,179 voters ± 2.9% 46% 45% 9%

Domestic partner registry[edit]

Eighteen cities in Minnesota, covering a total population of more than one million, have domestic partner registries allowing unmarried homosexual and heterosexual couples the right to obtain a certificate signifying that they are not related by blood and are committed to each other:[31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marriage equality in Minnesota: A gay-rights victory in the Midwest, September 13, 2013, retrieved May 13, 2013
  2. ^ "Same-Sex Marriage in Minnesota", Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, June 2009
  3. ^ Baker v. Nelson, 409 810 (U.S. 1972).
  4. ^ Matt Baume (March 1, 2019). "Meet the Gay Men Whose 1971 Marriage Was Finally Recognized". Advocate.
  5. ^ Richard Moe, Chairman, "The 1972 DFL Platform", Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor State Central Committee (9-11 June 1972 at Rochester, MN ), resolution 71.d
  6. ^ Steve Endean (edited by Vicki Eaklor) (13 April 2006). "Bringing Lesbian and Gay Rights Into the Mainstream: Twenty Years of Progress (pp. 26 & 27)".
  7. ^ Marry Me Minnesota, archived from the original on June 30, 2009, retrieved January 9, 2010
  8. ^ Star Tribune: Abbey Simons, "Judge dismisses challenge to gay marriage barriers," March 8, 2011, accessed March 9, 2011
  9. ^ "Minnesota Secretary of State: Constitutional Amendments and the 2012 General Election". September 24, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  10. ^ MSNBC (November 7, 2012). "Minnesota election results". MSNBC.
  11. ^ "Minnesota Statutes 2007 – Chapter 517. Domestic Relations". Minnesota Legislature – Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  12. ^ "Key dates in gay marriage debate". Star Tribune. December 18, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  13. ^ "Same-sex marriage bill introduced in legislature". Minnesota Christian Examiner. March 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Budig, T.W. (December 19, 2012). "Same-sex marriage supporters want to move quickly on a bill". Star News. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "State senator promises gay marriage bill in 2013 session". KARE11. January 2, 2013. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  16. ^ "HF 1054 Status in the House for the 88th Legislature (2013 - 2014)". Retrieved 2013-12-02.
  17. ^ Minnesota State Legislature (10 May 2013). "HF 1054 Status in the House for the 88th Legislature (2013 - 2014)". Minnesota State Legislature.
  18. ^ Baskt, Brian (December 5, 2011). "Minn. House, Senate Panels Pass-Gay-Marriage-Bills". SF Gate. Associated Press. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  19. ^ Boldt, Megan (May 7, 2013). "Gay marriage clears Minnesota House panel; floor vote on hold". Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  20. ^ "Minnesota House approves gay marriage bill after two-hour debate". May 9, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  21. ^ "In historic vote, Minnesota Senate approves same-sex marriage". May 14, 2013.
  22. ^ "Dayton signs same-sex marriage bill at Capitol ceremony". MPR News. May 14, 2013.
  23. ^ Wong, Curtis (May 14, 2013). "Minnesota Legalizes Gay Marriage: Gov. Mark Dayton Signs Bill Into Law". Huffpost Gay Voices. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  24. ^ 518.07 Residence of Parties, accessed May 12, 2013
  25. ^ Olson, Rochelle (May 30, 2013). "Largest Minnesota counties to make same-sex marriage license applications available June 6". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  26. ^ Miranda, Maricella (June 28, 2013). "New 2013 Minnesota Laws in Effect July 1". Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  27. ^ "1st to tie the knot: Margaret Miles, and Cathy ten Broeke". Star Tribune. August 1, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  28. ^ 2015 Minnesota Statutes 517.01 CIVIL MARRIAGE CONTRACT.
  29. ^ Gay couples claim 1 in 3 Minnesota marriage licenses
  30. ^ Pat Kessler (9 March 2018). "Reality Check: 5 Years Of Same-Sex Marriage In Minnesota". CBS Minnesota.
  31. ^ "One Million Minnesotans Now Covered by Domestic Partner Registries", The Minnesota Independent, February 10, 2011
  32. ^ "Domestic Partnerships". OutFront Minnesota. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  33. ^ Kimball, Joe (May 29, 2009). "Duluth to offer domestic partner certificates". Minnpost. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  34. ^ "St. Paul OKs domestic partner registry", Star Tribune, July 23, 2009
  35. ^ Birkey, Andy (June 2, 2010). "Edina passes domestic partner registry".
  36. ^ "Rochester City Council passes domestic-partnership ordinance", Post Bulletin, July 7, 2010, archived from the original on July 15, 2010
  37. ^ Nelson, Tim (November 9, 2010). "Maplewood passes domestic partnership ordinance". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  38. ^ Smetanka, Mary (November 17, 2010). "Golden Valley is 7th city to approve domestic partner registry". StarTribune. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  39. ^ "St. Louis Park passes final vote on domestic partnership registration ordinance", MN Sun, January 26, 2011
  40. ^ Brett, Brouse (May 24, 2011). "Red Wing to recognize domestic partnerships". PostBulletin. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  41. ^ "Richfield to Recognize Same-Sex Couples", Richfield Patch, January 25, 2011, archived from the original on August 26, 2011
  42. ^ "Same-sex couples can now register in Shoreview", Shoreview Press, September 22, 2011
  43. ^ Aslanian, Sasha (July 28, 2011). "Falcon Heights is 12th city with domestic partner registry". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  44. ^ Dillmann, Chris (November 25, 2011). "Shorewood OKs domestic partnership registration". The Pioneer. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  45. ^ Birkey, Andy (January 4, 2012). "Eagan City Council passes domestic partner registry". Twin Cities Daily Planet.
  46. ^ Mary Jane Smetanka (January 24, 2012). "Eden Prairie OKs registry for domestic partners". Star Tribune.

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