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Minnesota

Same-sex couples accounted for 1 in 3 marriage licenses in Minn. in August

Monday, September 2, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Same-sex couples received nearly 1 in 3 marriage licenses issued in Minnesota since they were allowed to wed, The Associated Press found in a statewide survey of the first month’s impact of the new marriage equality law.

Since Minnesota became the 12th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage, at least 1,640 same-sex couples applied to be married. Counties aren’t required to report such data to the state, so the AP built a database through calls to all 87 counties.

Stacy Bengs, AP
Margaret Miles, right, celebrates with wife Cathy ten Broeke, left, after they were married at the Minneapolis Freedom to Marry Celebration on Aug. 1.

Millions of dollars were spent trying to block gay marriage in Minnesota, while many millions more were spent trying to achieve it. The rush by same-sex couples to take advantage of the new law likely reflects a pent-up demand by couples together for many years.

“This is the product of people who were living in the legal wilderness for so long, suddenly no longer being told their relationships are substandard,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis and a sponsor of the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in May. “There’s an excitement out there right now. I’ve been going to so many weddings lately, it’s like I’m two years out of college again.”

AP obtained information from 83 of 87 counties. Among the findings:

  • Demand was heaviest in the metro area, with three of every four licenses for gay marriages issued in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, which make up about 32 percent of Minnesota’s population.
  • At least 1,433 licenses were issued to gay couples in the 12 counties where most voters opposed a 2012 attempt to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota’s constitution. One county in that category – St. Louis – wouldn’t provide a license breakdown.

  • In 29 of the responding counties, no gay couples sought licenses. All are counties where voters favored the constitutional ban. They account for about 7 percent of the state’s population.

  • There was at least one application for a gay marriag e in 40 counties where the constitutional ban had majority support. Clay County, where Moorhead is the population center, had the most with 31.

  • Statewide, almost 3,600 licenses were issued to opposite-sex couples from Aug. 1 through the final days of the month, when the AP sought the information.

The AP’s data aren’t a precise reflection of the number of couples who wed beginning at midnight Aug. 1. Marriage licenses are valid for six months after receipt, and some people who seek one could later decide not to marry. Marriage certificates are issued after nuptials, but those documents don’t list the gender of each party to the marriage.

State law requires marriage licenses applications to include a space for people to mark their gender. Some counties opened the application window for same-sex couples in June, but none of the licenses could take full force until August.

Officials in Pine, Rock and Todd counties refused requests for the information. S t. Louis County also withheld the data, but said in response to an open records request that it would consider turning over details within two weeks.

State officials estimated this spring that 5,000 gay and lesbian couples would get married in the law’s first year; the Census Bureau estimated in 2010 that there were 10,000 gay couples living in Minnesota.

Although Twin Cities-area counties led the way, same-sex marriage applications popped up in every corner of the state – from the seven in Cook County at the northeastern tip of the arrowhead, to the two in Lyon County in the southwest corner.

Minnesota for Marriage, the political group that pushed for the failed constitutional amendment and fought the gay marriage bill at the Capitol, has repeatedly highlighted the urban-rural split on the issue. Noting the one-month anniversary of the law, the group vowed again last week to try to defeat lawmakers who supported gay marriage against the wishes of most in t heir district.

“We did not forget,” the group said in an email to supporters.

One of the swing votes for the law came from Rep. Jay McNamar, a Democrat from Elbow Lake in western Minnesota. In the seven counties included in his district, only four gay couples applied for marriage licenses.

“Come election time it will get brought up, I know that. But I don’t regret what I did,” McNamar said. He said he heard from more gay-marriage supporters than opponents from back home when the bill was moving through the legislative process. McNamar said he recently got a wedding announcement from a gay couple in Morris, who likely account for the lone license application in Stevens County.

Robert Marcum and Joel Hoppe were one of two gay couples to apply for a license in central Minnesota’s Aitkin County. “Oh, there was another?” Marcum said last week.

Marcum and Hoppe wed Aug. 1 in the yard of their home in McGregor. Together 17 years, Marcum said they had n o intention of waiting any longer. Marcum, 61, said he’s not surprised gay marriage is coming slower to rural areas.

“For many years, when you were gay in a small town you moved to the city,” said Marcum, a member of his township board who said he’s yet to hear a single unkind remark about his marriage. “But the longer examples like us are out there, the more that’s going to change.”

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33 more reader comments:

  1. Everyone deserves equality!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:16am
  2. This is Awesome!!! <3

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:19am
  3. DAMN I WISH I HAD A WOMAN TO MARRY

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:20am
  4. The way it should be.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:27am
  5. About time!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:38am
  6. NOH8.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:55am
  7. YAY

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:11am
  8. Woot!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:14am
  9. Economy is booming.. Businesses are having a hard time keeping up with all of the catering and everything.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:16am
  10. its called a big backlog…

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:42am
  11. Go Minnesota

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 4:07am
  12. help us get married <3 any help is appreciated :) http://www.gofundme.com/44rjnc

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 5:52am
  13. Suck on that, Bachmanns!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 1:55pm
  14. Yes!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:05pm
  15. Gay marriage might save our economy! :D

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 3:35pm
  16. This is awesome

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 5:01pm
  17. we want to throw our money at different vendors to get married. why not let us ? our projected buying power is estimated at $790 BILLION. thats a biiiig wad of cash!

    http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/buying-power

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 5:23pm
  18. What does the “Q” stand for?

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:33pm
  19. Questioning.

    Replied on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:34pm
  20. Thank you Thomas. Never saw the “Q” at the end before. Live and learn. I just learned something new.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:37pm
  21. and the CASH keeps flowing in spite of the bigots

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:54pm
  22. HOW MANY END IN DIVORCE?IS IT THE SAME AS OTHER MARRIAGES?

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 7:08pm
  23. Q can also stand for Queer. I am Queer.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 7:39pm
  24. I am queer too.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 7:47pm
  25. Me 2

    Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 9:19pm
  26. Who cares about divorce? Get out of peoples lives!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 7:37am
  27. it means queer.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 9:25am
  28. Quality….I think!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 11:13am
  29. “Q” = queer/questioning

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 12:08pm
  30. WHAT ABOUT OPPOSITE SEX MARRIAGES???

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 12:31pm
  31. This means 50% more business for bakers, caterers, bands, tuxedo shops, bridal shops, musicians, etc! Good on ya, MN! I wish these bigots in NC would figure this out.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:42pm
  32. Congratulations!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 3:32pm
  33. …..my God…..Marcus Bachmann has to be popping his Maidenform over this!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 4:10pm