ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It happens every year. Hundreds of gay Minnesotans, friends and family gather on the State Capitol lawn for songs and speeches about love and civil rights.
But the 2012 Equality Rally, part of Outfront Minnesota's legislative lobby day, took on added significance. In November, Minnesotans will go to the polls to decide if the state constitution should define marriage as one man and one woman, thus banning gay marriage ban in the state.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who joined the festivities for the second year in a row, told the crowd he dreamt that voters defeated the amendment.
It would be a rarity if Minnesotans turned down the idea. In 30 other states, people approved the marriage amendment when given the opportunity to decide the question in the privacy of a voting booth.
"I think we're better than that," Gov. Dayton told the crowd. "We are an exceptional state."
Large sums of money will be spent on both sides of the question trying to sway voters here with a barrage of TV ads and mailers. But much of the work happening behind the scenes involves conversations with neighbors.
Training seminars are being held on both sides, helping people frame their arguments if they get caught in an impromptu debate. Those working to defeat the amendment have focused on asking heterosexual couples to think about what actually defines their marriages.
"When Minnesotans are given the opportunity to see us as we are - the truth of our lives, centered on love - they will understand that by standing with us, they are standing up for exactly what they hold most dear," asserted Sen. Scott Dibble, a gay Democrat from Minneapolis.
"What is the most precious thing in their hearts? Love, commitment and family. And they will reject the lies, distortions and negativity of our opponents!"
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