Marriage equality took center stage at the Capitol in St. Paul on Valentine's Day as where hundreds gathered to urge Minnesota lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in the wake of the marriage amendment's defeat.
Organizers expected up to 2,000 people to participate. Though there was no official count, Thursday's crowd appeared to easily meet that expectation.
Speakers included Democratic lawmakers and religious leaders who argue that last fall's statewide defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage has cleared the way to repeal an existing state law prohibiting same-sex couples from marriage.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Mark Dayton reaffirmed his support for same-sex marriage rights. Democratic leaders have increasingly expressed a willingness to take up the issue later in the 2013 session.
It seemed fitting that on Valentine's Day people of all ages came to the Capitol to say love is in the air and should be recognized, regardless of gender.
Sen. Scott Dibble said it is ironic that his fellow lawmakers recognize his marriage even though the law itself does not.
"The workplace directory was just printed at the Capitol," Dibble said. "Guess what it says? Scott Dibble, married: spouse, Richard Leyva. So, it's not so hard."
Yet, critics like Robert Lopez, a bisexual California professor raised by two lesbians, say the right to marry is trumped by the right of a child to have two parents of opposite genders.
"I think it's so important to show gay and lesbian couples that we respect their relationships. We honor and we privilege them, but there's also the right of a child to have a mother and father. Unfortunately, with gay marriage, we can't have both."
The group Minnesota for Marriage has insisted amendment's defeat in the last election does not imply widespread support for legalization, and they have planned their own rally at the Capitol for March 7.