More than 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans and their allies rallied at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul Thursday afternoon to make their voices heard for LGBT equality. OutFront Minnesota, the chief organizer for the rally, presented a petition of 800 signatures to Gov. Tim Pawlenty urging him not to veto a bill working its way through the legislature that would allow local governments to decide whether to offer domestic partner benefits.
The speakers for Thursday’s rally addressed the issues facing the LGBT community, but also expanded that message to include all the issues affecting Minnesotans. From labor to immigration and women’s issues and racism, the message was one of inclusion and helping all of Minnesota’s diverse communities.
“We have a really powerful voice this coming year,” said OutFront Minnesota Public Policy Director Monica Meyer. “This is really our chance to think and hope and dream of a better state. This is also our chance as GLBT people and allies to really think about what we want our movement to look like in the years to come.”
Rabbi Jared Saks of Temple Israel told the crowd, “Every single one of us at some point in our lives has been downtrodden, on the receiving end of hate. But we have an obligation to make sure we don’t treat others in the same way because we know what it feels like.”
“We’re here to keep moving Minnesota forward,” said House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “We’ve replaced that hate with another four-letter word, and that’s love, and yet another four-letter word, fair.”
Quoting the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, former Executive Director Ann DeGroot said, “We know that it is to the benefit of our community that we understand that we all do better when we all do better. We care about all Minnesotans.”
More than 20 legislators gathered in front of the crowd to show their support, the largest number to address the crowd yet.