by Andy Birkey • Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples rallied at the Minnesota Capitol on Thursday in support of the Marriage and Family Protection Act, a bill that would allow them to marry in Minnesota. But while supporters gave passionate speeches about economic hardship and discrimination, several anti-gay protesters attempted to derail the rally.
The rally marked Freedom to Marry Day, an annual day of protest against inequalities of marriage laws across the country. More than a dozen speakers testified about hardships they’ve suffered due to a lack of marriage rights, and a dozen legislators took the stage to support marriage equality. Members of three political parties, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Green Party and the Republican Party showed their support as well.
Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage looked down on the crowd gathered at the Captiol rotunda.
Philip Knoll of Join the Impact: “Look at the economy. Studies have looked at the economic impact of gay marriage. It would generate $25,225,000 to the state budget if every same-sex couple went and got a marriage license. And when is the last time you knew a couple that got married for only $100? Think of all the economic energy this would generate.”
“I think there’s a lot of fear among some people, a lot of misunderstanding,” said DFL Sen. John Marty who is lead author of the bill in the Senate. “And so I don’t want to have a debate. I don’t want an argument over gay marriage I want to have a discussion.”
He countered the anti-gay protesters by altering their signs to be more inclusive. “In honor the speakers today, we want to defend all marriages!”
Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, looked on as protesters on his side, against same-sex marriage, heckled the speakers.
Capitol security attempted to quiet one anti-gay protester who was interrupting the speakers during the rally.
“This is a movement that is moving forward. We are going to move forward! On Monday we had 24 co-authors. We’ve got people from all corners of the state,” said Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, the lead author of the bill in the House.
Kelly Lewis, a community organizer for OutFront Minnesota, introduced the speakers.
Samantha and Melanie took the stage with their two children, Stella and Avery, to talk about same-sex parenting and the impact marriage laws have on raising kids in a same-sex household.