Minnesota and Rhode Island set to begin same-gender marriages
MINNEAPOLIS – As gay and lesbian couples line up to get married in Minnesota, starting at midnight tonight, none of them will get the honor of being the first same-gender couple to marry in the Gopher State.
You have to turn back the clock to 1971 when one gay couple cleverly obtained a marriage license and got married in a Victorian house in Minneapolis. Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who are still married today more than 40 years later, became the first Minnesota same-gender couple to wed. Their marriage stunned Americans and people across the world, who had never heard of that kind of nuptials.
Baker and McConnell became something of a cause célèbre, appearing on TV shows and news broadcasts during the early 1970s.
“We're gonna win eventually, not this time but maybe the next time around," Baker said in a 1973 appearance on David Susskind’s talk show. He predicted that it was a matter of time before same-gender marriage would be legalized.
Baker called same-gender marriage a civil-rights issue.
"It goes to the core of discrimination, you cannot let non-gay people treat you differently... you have to say 'I pay taxes to support this government and it is going to recognize me as an equal citizen or by God I'm going to disrupt that government,'" he said on the show.
Both men remained activists for a number of years before dropping out of the limelight. Baker worked as a lawyer and McConnell as a librarian. Today, at age 70, both men are largely retired and declined most media requests.
So on Aug. 1, Minnesota and Rhode Island become the 12th and 13th state where same-gender marriage is legal. Minnesota will begin weddings at midnight, but Rhode Island will wait until morning. For Baker and McConnell, they can see their vision coming true.