Bakk: Amendment vote was not a mandate to legalize same-sex marriage

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (front), with Minn. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (not pictured), and Minn. Governor Mark Dayton (background) met Nov. 7, 2012 to discuss post-election plans for Democrats after regaining the majority in both the Minn. House and Senate.
Alex Kolyer for MPR

DFL legislative leaders say making same-sex marriage legal won't be a priority in the next legislative session.

Newly chosen DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk told MPR's The Daily Circuit on Friday that he did not interpret the results of this week's marriage amendment vote as a message from voters that they want same-sex marriage legalized in Minnesota.

"I think what the electorate was telling the Legislature is, 'Don't go pass constitutional amendments to get around a governor,' " Bakk said. "You know, it was already against the law in Minnesota, there was no reason for a constitutional amendment, and I think most Minnesotans didn't feel that amending the constitution with those kind of provisions — social provisions — was a proper use of the constitution."

Some supporters of same-sex marriage hope it will become legal now that Democrats control both the House and Senate plus the governor's office. Bakk said he discussed the issue with his caucus Thursday night, adding the conversation went "very well."

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"I've made it very clear to members of my caucus — there will be plenty of time over the next two years to think about policy issues. Right now, the urgent thing in front of us is to get this state budget fixed," Bakk said.

An MPR news analysis of the amendment vote shows many Democrats represent districts where voters believe marriage should be between a man and woman.

Democrats in the Minnesota House and Senate elected their leaders Thursday as they prepare to take control of the Legislature in January. After Election Day change-ups, Democrats will control all of state government for the first time since 1990.

In the House, Paul Thissen of Minneapolis will be the new speaker of the House; Erin Murphy of St. Paul will be House Majority Leader.

In the Senate, Bakk from the northern Minnesota town of Cook will be majority leader. Katie Sieben of suburban Newport will be assistant majority leader; Sandy Pappas of St. Paul will be Senate president.