Minnesota made history this election by becoming the first state to reject a marriage amendment. “No other state has done what we just did,” said Josh Winters, the executive director of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG). “We did the impossible. We beat it. It’s just incredible. It really speaks to the kind of state we live in.”
The defeat of the amendment that would have defined marriage as only being between one man and one woman was passed and added into 30 other state constitutions, making Minnesota the first state to break the trend.
The final count of the ballots showed 51 percent of Minnesotans voted against the amendment, while on college campuses the percentage was much higher.
On average, colleges across the state voted 79 percent in opposition to the amendment.
Specifically on the UMD campus, 76.3 percent of students that cast their ballot on campus in precinct 10 voted “no” on the marriage amendment.
Winters said that the high numbers are reflective of this generation, in that it doesn’t view gay marriage the same as older generations.
“This younger generation looks at gay marriage very differently because they are connected, they know people who are out, they have loved ones that are out,” Winters said. “Previous generations weren’t as connected.”
Because the race to define marriage was so tense, claiming to be statistical dead-heat just days before Minnesotans cast their votes, the high turnout on campuses election night was a key factor in the defeat.
"It’s wonderful to see how influential the youth really are,” said Mariana Glitsos, a junior at UMD who is also the vice chair of the state board of directors for MPIRG. “We really do care about where our state and our country is going.”
Glitsos described election night as a “huge relief” and smiled as she recalled the moment she heard that the marriage amendment had been defeated.
“I have never felt such an overwhelming emotion,” said Glitsos.
She also added she thought it was sad to be in a position of defending rights of friends and family in the first place.
Winters echoed this feeling, saying that tears of joy were definitely shed over the results that night. Even students not involved with MPIRG felt buoyant after the hearing the amendment was defeated.
Mikayla Schwartz, a junior at UMD from St. Francis, Minn., thought this year’s election was “interesting,” and said she was nervous voting for her first.
“Just knowing that it still possible for others to still be happy with the ones they love,” said Schwartz. “It was pretty exciting that I made a difference in that.”
Now, the defeat is looked at as a huge success for gay rights and marriage equality, but gay marriage is still illegal under current Minnesota law.
“Although it’s not making gay marriage legal at this point, it’s a step toward making it legal,” said Glitsos, who voted “no” on Nov. 6. “It was a huge fight to defend where we are now but to also raise awareness that we need to keep moving forward.”
The progress Glitsos hopes to see in Minnesota can be seen in states like Maine and Maryland, which legalized same-sex marriage in this year’s election, while six states and Washington, D.C. legalized gay marriage prior to last Tuesday night.
“I feel like the youth of our state are really going to take those steps,” said Glitsos. “It totally is a human rights issue, not a political issue for our generation.”
BY: KIM HYATT