Same-sex marriage opponents, supporters say they will remember how legislators voted

Same-sex marriage opponents
Same-sex marriage opponents pray at the State Capitol on Monday, May 13, 2013 in St. Paul, Minn.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

A bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota will be signed into law Tuesday afternoon by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Thousands of people flooded the Capitol to witness that historic moment on Monday when the state Senate passed the bill by a 37-to-30 vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Some came to celebrate it. Others came to protest.

A thunderous cheer rose up from the Capitol rotunda just moments after the senators cast their votes.

"It's amazing. The thought that my wife and I have been together for eight years, and we have five beautiful kids and now we can get married," said Nitara Frost, wiping tears from her eyes.

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The makeshift sign she holds up is a photo of her family.

"My oldest is eight, and then we have a six-year-old son, a five-year-old son, a four-year-old son, and an almost-three-year-old son," Frost said. "And they're all adopted from Minnesota. And so now we can go home and tell the kids, and I'm very excited."

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For hours leading up to the vote, supporters of same-sex marriage chanted, cheered and sang until their voices were hoarse.

The rotunda was a sea of orange shirts -- many left over from last year's campaign against the constitutional amendment that would have effectively banned same-sex marriage. The shirts still read "Vote No," but everyone knew that this time the message meant "Yes."

Same-sex marriage supporters gathered around televisions in the State Capitol react as they watch Senators vote Monday, May 13, 2013. The Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, 37-30.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Tina Fahnestock was one of many who noted the irony.

"I'm really happy that the Republican Party put this amendment on the ballot in November, because it rallied all of us to push for equality marriage for all people in the state of Minnesota," Fahnestock said. "I don't think it would have come his quickly and this sweetly." The day was not so sweet for opponents of same-sex marriage. They were outnumbered. Their signs urged lawmakers not to "erase moms and dads." Some played drums. Many prayed.

Ann Collopy stood not far from drum and prayer groups. She called the day "cataclysmic."

"You start overturning societal institutions like this, that's big. It's big," Collopy said. "I'm glad I'm older, and I'm glad that I do not have a family. I never married. I don't have children, and I'm glad. I wouldn't wish what's coming on the next generation."

But in spite of Collopy's outlook, she said opponents of same sex marriage in Minnesota will continue fighting it.

"This isn't going to settle the issue any more than when Roe v. Wade was handed down. They said, 'oh, thank God. Now this is settled.' Well look at, it's not," Collopy said, comparing the issue to the 1973 landmark US Supreme Court decision on abortion. "People are having fits about it 50 years later."

Martha Pedersen, center left, and Michelle Medina, who recently took part in a commitment ceremony and want to be married in Minnesota, embraced after the Senate voted 37-30 to legalize same-sex marriage Monday, May 13, 2013 at the State Capitol.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Roe v. Wade was brought up as a symbol of perseverance by a number of same-sex marriage opponents, like Father Thomas McCabe, a Catholic priest in Lonsdale. Even though McCabe's side lost this round, he still has a smile on his face.

"I'm going to persevere in praying for people. I'm going to persevere in caring for people whether they're homosexual or straight or just confused," McCabe said. "I'm there to call them to get to know the Lord Jesus and to follow reason and God's supernatural laws of salvation."

Same-sex marriage opponents vowed to campaign against legislators who voted for the bill. Supporters said they will protect those incumbents and led cheers of "we have your back."

But for now, supporters plan to celebrate as Gov. Dayton makes Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. A signing ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. on steps of the state Capitol.