Two state representatives who represent Fridley spoke on the floor of the state House Saturday night against putting a Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage on the 2012 general-election ballot. The bill later passed 70-62.
Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-50A) said the issue made her "very sad," mentioned a lesbian couple who are "my dearest friends," and emphasized "recognizing our oneness." She referred to an earlier speech by Rep. John Ward (DFL-12A):
Rep. Ward, you mentioned that because one of your arms is different than the other arm, you were denied a job four times as a young person. You could have struck out in anger but instead you vowed, from the heart, never to be discriminatory yourself. Now that's recognizing our oneness—our oneness, members. Please vote no to this divisive and discriminatory amendment.
Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL-50B) spoke at length:
I enter this chamber with a little bit of fear. ... First, I fear for the happiness of some Minnesotans. ... We need to think about the individuals this vote personally affects and their pursuit of happiness ...
Think about the feeling of this chamber and these halls the last several days. Think about that tension. Now imagine that tension fueld by millions of dollars [in advertising] and spread to every corner of Minnesota ... for 18 months. Let's think about what that means before we take this vote. This makes me fear for our state and who we are, together, as a people.
But members, I'm also proud as I stand here tonight. I'm proud because this debate has changed. ... Many decades ago, people were scared to say who they were, to come out and be frank with their—not just their communities but even with their families—about who they were born to love. They were scared to admit that.
This debate has changed from when I ran for office for the first time. It's different questions. It's different discussions. This debate has changed in the last six months. This debate has changed in the last month. This debate has changed in the last week as we listen to the people out in the halls. It's changed in the last 48 hours.
And think about the 18 months and how this debate will change with millions of dollars. Every corner of this state. Eighteen months.
And I hope you'll vote no. I hope that my pride will be reaffirmed tonight. I hope with all my heart that all of us—we together as Minnesotans—will vote no. That's my hope first, that tonight we'll vote no.
And if we don't, I will shed some tears. I have already shed some tears, like so many in this Capitol and in these halls. And after I shed those tears. I'll walk out those doors with my head held high. I will join arms with my fellow Minnesotans, and I will fight.
And I will fight to change this debate. Because members, we've made progress down the path of freedom from fear. But to ... We need to make it down a path of the freedom to pursue happiness. And I ask you to join me tonight in voting no.
Love and Tranquility
After the vote, the Capitol hallways erupted as protesters reacted to the news. In an live-streamed interview, The UpTake asked Knuth what the vote meant.
"It means we're going to have to get together and fight on the side of love and tranquility," she said.
Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B), who represents part of eastern Fridley, joined Laine and Knuth in voting no.
Here is the text of the bill that the House passed Saturday, sending the question to the voters of Minnesota in 2012:
A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; adding a section to article XIII; recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Section 1. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSED.
An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, a section shall be added to article XIII, to read:
Sec. 13. Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.
Sec. 2. SUBMISSION TO VOTERS.
The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. The question submitted must be: "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?