SAINT PAUL, Minn. — In his annual State of the State address, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday called on state lawmakers to put forward legislation this year that would legalize same-sex marriage.
The Democratic governor, speaking to an evening joint session of the Legislature, delivered his most ringing endorsement yet of marriage equality in Minnesota as a debate over that issue looms at the state Capitol.
“Let me mention one other cause, which is controversial, but consistent with my faith and my principles. And, more importantly, consistent with this country’s founding principles and its Constitution. I believe that every Minnesotan should have the freedom to marry legally the person she or he loves, whether of the same or other sex.
“Last year, Minnesotans began a conversation about why marriage matters, and we found our common belief that it is about love, commitment, and responsibility. I want Minnesota to be a state, which affirms that freedom for one means freedom for everyone, and where no one is told it is illegal to marry the person you love.”
State Sen. Scott Dribble (D-Minneapolis), who said last month he would take the lead in the Senate on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, said in a statement immediately after the governor’s address that Dayton’s position on the issue may prove to be a deciding factor this session.
“It shows his willingness to lead on this issue, and spend some political capital,” Dibble said. “I think it gives (wavering) legislators space as they make their decisions to do the right thing.”
Opponents, however, called the governor out of touch, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“Minnesotans inherently understand that marriage is more than a government love license,” said Autumn Leva, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage. “Authentic marriage is really about a personal promise with a public purpose that benefits everyone, especially kids, parents and our state’s economy.”
A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was rejected by Minnesota voters in November 2012.