Gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota

The crowd as Richard Carlbom claims victory over the amendment.
The crowd as Richard Carlbom claims victory over the amendment.
Photo: Andy Mannix

Richard Carlbom's fiance just had the best birthday party ever.

Around 1:45 a.m., Carlbom -- campaign manager of Minnesotans United for All Families -- addressed an exhausted crowd at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, claiming victory over an amendment that would have constitutionally banned gay marriage in the state.

"Tonight, Minnesota proved that love is bigger than government," he said.

SEE ALSO: Slideshow: Minnesotans United for All Families Election Party 2012 Voter ID amendment fails in Minnesota Race between Bachmann and Graves in the 6th remains too close to call The City Pages 2012 election blog

To the now-elated room, Carlbom also mentioned it was his fiance's birthday, cuing an impromptu and joyous -- if comically out of sync -- version of "Happy Birthday."

As of publication, with almost all precincts reported, the amendment is trailing by more than four percent, meaning it appears Minnesota is the first state in the country to defeat an attempt to constitutionally define marriage as between a man and woman only. Maine and Maryland also made history by voting to legalize gay marriage tonight, and Washington is expected to do the same.

Gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota
Opponents of the amendment packed the RiverCentre.

At the RiverCentre, where Minnesotans United held its election-day party, it was a long and emotional evening, beginning at 8 p.m. and ending at 2 a.m., when the organizers' lease on the room expired.

Though the excitement in the night was apparent in perpetual cheering and dance parties, so was the tension. Many in the room wouldn't commit beyond cautious optimism before the announcement.

There's "a lot of money and a lot of resources weighed against us," said Bill Hoadley, longtime member of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, early in the evening.

Every Democrat victory that rolled in from around the country lifted the collective spirit of the crowd. But by 1 a.m., the race was still too close to call. It appeared the results wouldn't come in until later in the morning, and the crowd would have to celebrate or mourn apart.

When Carlbom took the stage 45 minutes later, the crowd turned electric before he even made the announcement.

"Minnesota is the now the first state in our country to have faced this question and said no," Carlbom declared, crediting the volunteers and staffers for their work on the campaign.

The room erupted in cheers. People began hugging the ones next to them. Others started crying.

Gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota
A sign pinned to the wall at the RiverCentre.

But Carlbom noted that there was still work to be done before gay marriage is legal in Minnesota.

"This conversation does not end tonight," he said. "It's only just begun."

After his speech, organizers blasted "We are the Champions" by Queen at high volume, and the celebration continued.

"We won everything!" one woman said, jumping up and down.

"I have to say, I am so, so proud," Nicque Mabrey told City Pages through tears, offering the vote as evidence that Minnesota is heading in a new direction.

For Justin Anderson, another in attendance at the RiverCentre, the victory for gay rights speaks to how far the state has already come.

"It says to me that Minnesota is not only a place where it's OK to be gay -- not only a place where it's OK to be who you are -- but we stand up for each other."

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