Many of the nearly 1,000 people who gathered on the Capitol mall Wednesday held hand-written signs that simply read, "Thank you, Minnesota."
The theme of the "United for Our Future" post-election rally was gratitude for Minnesotans who voted to defeat a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Speakers, including the leaders of Minnesotans United for All Families, the group that led the campaign against the amendment, and elected officials who were outspoken opponents of the proposal, told the crowd that Tuesday's election marked a historic moment.
They said the results show society is changing, opinions are evolving and that this is a turning point for gay rights.
Monica Meyer of the group OutFront Minnesota thanked the crowd for being part of what she called the biggest grassroots campaign in Minnesota's history. She said volunteers worked hard for 18 months, talking with family members and strangers about marriage.
"They had conversations that were really about love and commitment and what marriage is and what family is," Meyer said before she spoke to the rally. "And we want to just continue just having those conversations and continue to just grow on that momentum, and look forward to a future where all families are treated equally in Minnesota."
State Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, and state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, echoed the sentiment. Dibble told the crowd that defeating the amendment was not enough.
"Love won," Dibble said, but, "you have more work to do."
Dibble reminded them that same-sex marriage remains illegal in Minnesota. He urged the crowd to keep working together to pass gay rights and, eventually, legalize same-sex marriage.
Claudia Gilbertson of New Brighton, who worked on the "vote no" campaign with the Shoreview chapter of Minnesotans United for All Families, said they are ready for that fight.
"That's our next step," Gilbertson said. "We've got one step done, next step is gay marriage. Full equality."
Gilbertson said she made many friends during the campaign and they plan to keep working together. She and her husband, Dennis Gilbertson, have a grandson and many friends who are gay.
"I'm just so happy that there may be a chance for equality for everybody," Dennis Gilbertson said. "I don't like to be the privileged one without having the responsibility of going out and seeing that others are going to be able to be included in our society."
Merrick Bomback of Minneapolis said in 20 years the amendment's defeat won't seem significant, but now, after a long wait, it seems huge.
"It took a long time," he said. "The country should be happy for this moment."
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