By Tim Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Rep. Karen Clark was on House floor Thursday (Feb. 14) as hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters gathered outside in the Capitol Rotunda for the first marriage rally of the legislative session.
“The big question is timing,” said Clark, a lesbian lawmaker, with a lingering smile.
“It’s going to happen,” she said of a vote on the House floor.
A Democrat from Minneapolis, Clark indicated she believes a vote would happen this year.
“Yes, and it’s going to pass,” Clark said, quietly, of marriage legislation.
But exactly when a vote will take place isn’t written in stone.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, spoke of time for a conversation on same-sex marriage after lawmakers deal with the state budget.
But other Democrats in addition to for Clark expect a floor vote.
Outside in the Rotunda at the clergy-led Minnesotans United Freedom to Marry rally, the chants were exacting.
“Now is the time! This is the year!” one echoed.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, a gay legislator, told Capitol Report that he expects to introduce his same-sex marriage legislation in about a week.
“That’s the opportunity for folks to really engage,” he said of committee hearings.
Dibble characterized the Valentine’s Day marriage rally as about love.
Newly reelected DFL State Party Chairman Ken Martin, speaking against the din of the rally, said Democrats are not nervous about same-sex marriage.
“I think DFLers and Democrats like myself, we believe strongly that this is a human rights issue, a civil rights issue,” he said.
Although Republicans have argued that Democrats are doing exactly what they accused Republicans of doing — focusing on controversial social issues — Martin dismissed the charge.
“If we do our jobs right as DFLers, and we’re able to get the economy on track, put people back to work, there’ll be a space created to have a conversation on the marriage issue,” he said.
He hasn’t spoken with Democratic lawmakers on the marriage issue, Martin said, so doesn’t know how the votes are lining up
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this week again indicated his support for the same-sex marriage initiative.
“I’ll do whatever I can,” he said.
“Sometimes my support does more good than harm around here. And sometimes it’s the other way around,” Dayton said with self-depreciating humor.
“I’m prepared to do whatever I can to be supportive,” he said.
There is currently no same-sex marriage legislation in the House.
Tim Budig can be reached at [email protected]