Marriages to begin Thursday in Minn., R.I.; Colorado grants 1st gay divorce


Gay Rhode Island state Rep. Frank Ferri will marry Thursday.

In Minnesota and Rhode Island, same-sex couples can begin to marry at midnight tonight. Meanwhile, Colorado granted its first same-sex divorce.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Minnesota marriage equality bill into law on May 14. Courthouses in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other large cities will be open at midnight tonight to accommodate couples who want to be among the first to take advantage of the new law.

Minneapolis Mayor Ron Stein plans to marry about 40 couples on the first day of marriage equality.

Betty Crocker, based in Minnesota, is donating wedding cakes for the first day of wedding celebrations.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the largest shopping mall in the U.S., will host a wedding on Aug. 1 in its Chapel of Love.

Rhode Island already had civil unions and recognized marriages performed elsewhere. When the civil union bill passed, it satisfied no one. Opponents of the bill wanted no relationship recognition and marriage-equality proponents saw no purpose in getting a civil union when all surrounding states offered marriage.

Now, couples may go to city or town clerks to turn their civil unions into marriages. Other couples are expected to marry beginning Thursday morning.

Rhode Island state Rep. Frank Ferri is planning to marry his partner Tony Caparco. They were married in Canada in 2006, but will remarry on Thursday. House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is also gay, will preside, according to the local NBC affiliate.

Also this week, Colorado granted its first same-sex divorce. Earlier this year, the state passed civil unions. Although same-sex couples can’t marry in Colorado, they can now dissolve marriages from other states.

—  David Taffet

Houston Aeros’ Justin Fontaine suspended for anti-gay tweet

Justin Fontaine

Houston’s American Hockey League team, the Aeros, has suspended player Justin Fontaine for two games after a homophobic tweet from the right winger.

The suspension was handed down from the Aeros’ parent NHL team the Minnesota Wild, who issued a press statement apologizing for Fontaine’s “inappropriate” comment.

Fontaine has since removed the offending tweet and tweeted an apology, saying “Twitter rookie and it came out totally wrong. It was a roommate battle, nothing more.” Missing from Fontaine’s apology was any recognition that it is cruel to use a term for queer people to deride something.

The issue is not that Fontaine used a naughty word, or that he did it in a public venue. The issue is that Fontaine seems to think that words meaning LGBT people are synonyms for “a thing I don’t like.” It’s hard to imagine that that equation does not stem from a dislike for LGBT people.

—  admin

Minnesota School District ‘Investigation’ Says Bullying Not Responsible For Suicides

The Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota's largest school district, has seen six students take their lives over the past year and a half. One of them was 15-year-old Justin Aaberg who, according to his friends, took his life after being bullied in school. The school district has recently completed an "investigation" into teenage bullying and concluded that bullying was not responsible for any of the suicides in their district.

JustinSaid Superintendent Dennis Carlson in an official statement: "As we all try to heal from the pain of these deaths, the continuation of inaccurate information is not helpful," Carlson said in his message. "Once again, we have no evidence that bullying played a role in any of our student deaths."

As Minnesota Public Radio points out, "District officials didn't conduct a formal investigation into the student suicides, but to figure out why six students took their own lives, they had a series of conversations among district officials, as well as with parents and others who knew the students."

Justin's mother thinks the school's so-called investigation is a total crock.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, "The district's conclusion doesn't sit well with Tammy Aaberg. Her son Justin, who was gay, killed himself this past summer. She said she can't say for sure that an act of bullying caused Justin to hang himself. 'I don't know what the last thing was to drove him over the edge,' she said. 'I don't have proof of his last day.'"

"But Aaberg said that's less important than the fact that she's knows Justin was bullied and the district, she feels, isn't an inviting place for some students. 'So many kids have come to me on Facebook that aren't even in the district anymore that have dropped out or are in alternative schools — that have been bullied and they didn't do anything,' she said."

"Since her son's death, Aaberg has pushed the district for policies she says would make schools more welcoming for all students. The claim that bullying didn't cause any of the suicides was also disputed this week by a teen who told school board members that his friend, one of the suicide victims, killed herself because she'd been bullied so much. District officials are now looking into that claim."

In 2009, two Anoka-Hennepin School District teachers were ordered to go on leave after harrassing a gay teenager.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Did Katie Brenny Get Shafted Out Of a Univ. of Minnesota Golf Coaching Gig For Being A Lesbian?

Lisa Howe isn't the only university athletics coach allegedly getting the shaft because she's gay. Katie Brenny, 30, took a job at the University of Minnesota to assist the coach of it's women's golf team, but not a week after starting she was remanded to a desk job. Because she likes the ladies?


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—  admin

An Exciting Week of Fighting in Minnesota

The following post comes from HRC’s Public Policy Advocate, Josh King. Josh is just one of 30 HRC staff that are on the ground in key races, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about today’s elections:

Election day is here.

I have been working with Tarryl Clark’s campaign for over a week now, and it has been quite an exciting time. She is running an aggressive campaign against Michelle Bachmann who has been a staunch opponent of LGBT equality in Minnesota and nationwide. I have been making calls to members around the state who are very engaged in the upcoming election. People in the 6th Congressional District are tired of Bachmann and want someone like Clark who will represent the needs of all of the constituents of the district.

There have been some amazing events this past week including an event with President Clinton last Sunday, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.  A week ago, Clark participated in a debate that we recruited volunteers for; there was a overwhelming number of Clark supporters in the audience and a small rally inside prior to the debate.

I’ve had great conversations with our members in the district and they are very engaged to vote and make sure their family and friends know that Senator Clark is a pro-equality candidate. It’s going to take everyone’s help to send Bachmann out of office. Visit Tarryl’s website throughout the day for updates on the race.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Friends of Tarryl Clark

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Stepping Out to Get Out the Vote for Pro-Equality Candidates in Minnesota

The following post comes from HRC Staff member Paul Smith. Paul is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

I’ve been on the ground working for a few days now here in Minnesota, and I’m filled with excitement and enthusiasm about electing pro-equality candidates here in my home state.  One of the great things about working at HRC is meeting our members and supporters.  As my “day job” is in the finance department, my fellow accountants and I work behind the scenes and don’t get the chance to engage with our members frequently.  During election years and pride season, when HRC asks us to step out of our normal roles and hit the road, we jump at the chance!

I’m working in St. Paul engaging HRC members and supporters about the upcoming races throughout the state for pro-equality candidates up and down the ticket.  We’re gearing up for Saturday’s huge rally with President Obama and the University of Minnesota.  If you haven’t attended a big political rally before, don’t pass this one up.  How often do you get to see the President?   I’m hoping for a sunny fall day and I know we’ll all be pumped up to Get Out the Vote in Minnesota!

Join President Barack Obama and Mark Dayton on October 23rd for the “Get-Out-the-Vote for a Better Minnesota Rally”

Saturday, October 23, Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Northrop Mall, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
Minneapolis, MN
Click here to sign up to attend the event.

I’ve been spending my evenings calling HRC members recruiting volunteers for Get Out the Vote events.  I’ve been amazed how excited HRC folks are for candidates like Mark Dayton and I have had some great conversations with many of you.  HRC is definitely making a difference here in Minnesota, with four HRC staffers and an army of volunteers on the ground.

Speaking of ground, we need folks to hit the streets to door knock and distribute campaign literature the weekend before and up until Election Day.  Why is this work so important?  I had the privilege of working on Senator Al Franken’s campaign in 2008.  Maybe you remember how close that election was? That campaign proved to me the power that we as individuals have in electing our fair-minded candidates.  I know that I convinced a few people that weren’t planning to vote that year to get to the polls.  When the margins are slim, those few personal conversations matter.  This truly is important work, and it is fun and rewarding.  If an introverted accountant like me can do it, so can you!  Please sign up for a shift at

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign Minnesota PAC and authorized by the Minnesota DFL and Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Moving Forward on Marriage and Safe Schools in Minnesota

All across the country, progressives are gearing up for a tough election. Our friends and allies will need our help this year; perhaps more than ever. Here in Minnesota, we are in marathon mode. The prize at the end of this race is the possibility of finally passing a safe schools bill and the chance at securing full marriage equality for Minnesota families. We know what is at stake, and Minnesotans are stepping up to the plate.

If this week was any indication, we are going to spend November 3rd celebrating. Our recent phonebank was packed with supporters and allies calling across Minneapolis to spread the good word about Mark Dayton and other pro-equality candidates to let people know about their support for LGBT rights. We made thousands of calls and had hundreds of conversations to remind them about the importance of voting for pro-equality candidates this November.

I also recently had the pleasure of running into Senator Al Franken. Senator Franken has been a solid ally in Congress and he stopped by a Get Out The Vote training to thank and support us staffers. He promised us that together we will keep Minnesota moving forward. If we elect Mark Dayton this November, we will truly make history.

If you have not already signed up to volunteer or help out, shoot me an email to get plugged in –

See you on the campaign trail!

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign Minnesota PAC and authorized by Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota and the Minnesota DFL

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Video: Minnesota ‘family’ guy to bullied victims: Just nicely ask them to stop, duh

What does the National Organization For Marriage’s partner in Minnesota, the Minnesota Family Council, suggest bullied LGBT students do to combat their situation? Well, MFC leader Chuck Darrell thinks the vulnerable kids should just march right into that school and tell the bullies to stop making their lives and a living, lunch money-deprived hell:

You know, because that’s how it usually works. It’s not that the kid is picked on because he or she is smaller or different or in some way more susceptible. No, no — it’s because the victim simply hasn’t stood up enough. That was totally your experience in the American school system, right? [::eye roll, head shake, murmuring of word that starts like ‘bully’ but ends in ‘it’::]

Convenient logic, Mr. Darrell. But here’s what we think: We think that LGBT students would literally, tangibly, demonstrably experience a change in their tormented, “kick me”-d state if groups like MFC and NOM would stop launching television campaigns against gay people’s simple right to love and would instead start focusing on how grown adults can instead steward a civil realm where all citizens are equally protected. Kids internalize these messages. Even younger children who may not be savvy enough to understand political complexities hear the messaging, either directly or from the parents or family members or acquaintances who have adopted it. And it’s completely obvious and sadly understandable how and why some who hear such hostility proceed to interpret it as a pass. A pass to write off certain people as different or abnormal. A pass to tease these people as if they are animals in a zoo. A pass to taunt kids who are perceived to fit a certain mold. A pass to vote, if not yet with a ballot then with a mean-spirited prank instead.

So you want the bullied LGBT kids of Minnesota to drive over to a responsible party’s house and confront a root of the antipathy? Well then: What’s MFC’s address again?

Good As You

—  John Wright

HRC supporters are pumped up for EQUALITY in Minnesota!

Last night was our first Twin Cities based, volunteer phone bank to members and supporters in Minnesota.  Our mission between now and Election Day is to cycle through tens of thousands of our supporters and mobilize them to volunteer and vote for pro-equality candidates up and down the ticket.  By all accounts last night’s effort was a resounding success with thousands of supporters dialed and hundreds of conversations held.  The overwhelming sentiment is that Mark Dayton, Yvonne Prettner Solon and fair-minded legislative candidates are HRC supporters’ choice for a better Minnesota.

This election is important for one simple reason:  Equality in Minnesota is under siege. Powerful interest groups like the National Organization for Marriage are pouring money into the state to support anti-equality candidates.  Even the Catholic Church has joined in the discrimination by sending hundreds of thousands of anti-marriage DVDs to parishioners.

Given the rash of LGBT youth suicides, Dayton and Prettner Solon will fight for a stronger Safe Schools bill that would give our educators the tools they need to effectively deal with bullying towards LGBT students, and they’ll fight to enact a marriage equality bill, making Minnesota the sixth state in the nation to recognize the love and commitment shared by same-sex partners.

If you’d like to get involved with our volunteer efforts to secure equality in the state, please RSVP here or contact directly.

And don’t forget to Celebrate National Coming Out Day

Join HRC, OutFront Minnesota and the DFL Stonewall Caucus

Confirmed Champions of Equality: Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Sen. Scott Dibble, Sen. John Marty, Eric Dayton

Monday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day and we’d like to invite you to our Coming OUT for Equality event that evening. This FREE event will be held at Lush Food Bar from 6-10pm with featured speakers beginning the program at 7pm. Come join us for this unity event and get pumped up for winning equality on November 2nd!  RSVP by clicking here.

Prepared and paid for by Human Rights Campaign Minnesota PAC, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington D.C., in support of the Minnesota DFL and Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

A little bit of Broadway in Minnesota!

Last night was the big LGBT kick-off event for Mark Dayton’s campaign for Governor here in Minnesota. Sponsored by HRC Minnesota PAC and OutFront Action PAC, the event brought Broadway star Gavin Creel and Mary-Mitchell Campbell to town to lend their significant talents to the effort. Hundreds of supporters of equality descended on the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis to unite behind Senator Dayton’s efforts to assure all Minnesotans are treated equally under the law.

The event drew a wide cross section of advocates from HRC, OutFront Minnesota, Project 515 and the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of the DFL. Additionally, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and State Representative Ryan Winkler were on hand to lend their support for Sen. Dayton and marriage equality.

The evening began with a small reception, during which Sen. Dayton, Mayor Rybak and OutFront Executive Director, Monica Meyers, all gave impassioned remarks about equality and the need for Minnesota to once again move to the front of the pack in treating all people with equal dignity and respect.  Then it was on to the main event!

Jake Reitan, one of the organizers of the event, took to the stage to welcome the crowd and get them pumped up and ready to act from now until Election Day. The crowd responded with whoops and hollers and the energy seemed to escalate for Jake’s introduction of Sen. Dayton, the man of the hour. The would be Governor revved up the crowd and gave a heartfelt recounting of a promise he made to his nephew that he would fight for his (and everyone else’s) equal rights in the state – including marriage equality.

Following the remarks, Gavin and Mary-Mitchell performed what seemed to be an endless set list of Irving Berlin favorites and some of Gavin’s own material. The evening ended with local theater performers joining Gavin and Mary-Mitchell on stage for the classic rendition of Let the Sun Shine In from Hair, the musical Gavin had starred in on Broadway.  Despite the incredible talent during the performance, I think the crowd will remember our guests from New York for their wit, personality and genuine care for our cause here in Minnesota.

With five and a half weeks to go until Election Day, the LGBT community in Minnesota must unite behind Mark Dayton and other fair-minded candidates.  We must turn out to volunteer for their campaigns and vote for him as he is the only viable candidate who will bring equality to the North Star State.  To get involved with our efforts in Minnesota, please email Tony Wagner at

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright