R.T. Rybak wants gay marriage legalized ASAP; why might DFL drag its heels?

With the marriage amendment defeated, Rybak wants the legislature to act quickly and legalize gay marriage.
With the marriage amendment defeated, Rybak wants the legislature to act quickly and legalize gay marriage.

:::: UPDATE :::: After this post was published, Rybak communications director John Stiles reached out to City Pages with the following clarification: "I'd only point out that nowhere in [Rybak's Facebook post] does he put a timeline on [legalizing gay marriage]. 'As soon as possible' are your words, not his." We'd argue 'ASAP' is implied by the mayor's language [check out his Facebook post after the jump] but wanted to add Stiles' clarification to set the record straight.

No doubt, Tuesday was a huge victory for supporters of same-sex marriage. But with the amendment defeated, Gov. Dayton signing legislation for at least a couple more years, and DFL majorities in the Senate and House, it makes you wonder -- what's stopping Democrats from passing a bill legalizing gay marriage as soon as the 2013 legislative session convenes?

-- Marriage equality found least support in southwest MN, most support in Mpls [MAPS]
-- MN for Marriage's concession: "God has defined marriage as between one man and one woman"

If the DFL House and Senate caucuses united in support of gay marriage, there isn't much anybody could do to stop them. But alas, the issue remains a somewhat divisive one for Democrats.

One prominent Minnesota Democrat who is unambiguous about his desire to see gay marriage legalized as soon as possible is our own R.T. Rybak, who shared this on Facebook Wednesday:

R.T. Rybak wants gay marriage legalized ASAP; why might DFL drag its heels?

But Democratic legislators -- with some notable exceptions, such as longtime gay marriage advocates Sen. John Marty and Rep. Phyllis Kahn -- are striking a more cautious tone.

From the Pioneer Press:

For Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, who has said he'll seek to become majority leader, a fight over marriage is not a top priority.

"I think anybody that has policy ideas need to find a way to put them on the back shelf right now. This state has serious financial challenges," Bakk said at the news conference...

[Sen. Scott] Dibble, who is gay and served on the committee that put same-sex marriage into the national Democratic Party platform, also is urging caution.

"I think we need to just pause for a second and really understand what this victory yesterday means," he said. "I don't know if we're going to immediately proceed to an effort to repeal Minnesota's DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law, but I do know that we are going to continue to take a look at having this discussion."

Dibble did have a prediction about himself and his partner. "We'll be married in Minnesota in our lifetime," he said.

Some local political pundits, such as the Minnesota Progressive Project's Jeff Rosenberg, argue the DFL should move aggressively to legalize gay marriage:

Minnesota voters just made history by defeating the Marriage Discrimination Amendment, and they gave the DFL a majority in both houses of the legislature while they were at it. The DFL has a mandate to pursue a bold agenda for reform... The very first thing they should do, though, is officially legalize same-sex marriage... It's time for full equality, and there has never been a better opportunity.

In the past, Democrats generally, and the DFL specifically, have often preferred to hedge on same-sex marriage. But the DFL came out strongly against the amendment, and they should not retreat from their support for equal marriage. They should build on it and make a stand for full equality.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is unequivocally wrong. If two consenting adults love each other and want to marry, the state should not restrict that. It's time to declare that loudly and proudly -- not just by refusing to place discrimination in the Constitution, but by finally granting our LGBT citizens full equality.

Gov. Dayton, for his part, said during a Wednesday news conference that the new DFL House and Senate caucuses deserve a chance to meet and talk among themselves "before we formulate what our policies will be or won't be." But one thing is for certain -- if the DFL decides to make gay marriage a priority next session, the MNGOP, for the first time since 1990, will be unable to do much of anything about it.

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