Minnesota Senate vote to legalize same-sex marriage emotional for Duluth coupleTim Robinson and Gary Lundstrom spent much of Monday talking, singing and chanting at the Minnesota state Capitol, but moments after the Minnesota Senate approved same-sex marriage, the Duluth couple was speechless.
By: Danielle Killey, Forum News Service
ST. PAUL — Tim Robinson and Gary Lundstrom spent much of Monday talking, singing and chanting at the Minnesota state Capitol, but moments after the Minnesota Senate approved same-sex marriage, the Duluth couple was speechless.
They hugged and cried, looking at each other with big smiles on their faces.
“How can our lives change this quick?” Robinson said.
“It’s a shock,” Lundstrom said.
The whole day was emotional for the couple, who have been together for more than 18 years.
It started as they entered the state Capitol and joined in singing “America,” “Over the Rainbow” and other songs with a crowd of hundreds.
Later they joined mostly same-sex marriage supporters lining the halls outside the Senate chamber. They laughed and talked with other people in the hot, crowded hallway. Robinson started to lose his voice from singing and talking so much.
“I didn’t expect to feel this good,” he said as they prepared for senators to come into session. “I’m having so much fun meeting people here.”
He was emotional about the impact of the crowd and the pending vote.
“It’s bringing a lot of healing to a lot of hurt for many years,” he said.
Robinson and Lundstrom had their photos snapped throughout the day, drawing attention with signs and shirts printed with a photo of an August 1997 Colorado ceremony they shared.
They plan to get married in Minnesota after the change takes effect at the beginning of August.
“We had no idea this would be happening in our lifetimes,” Robinson said.
“This is security”
Aaron Forbort, formerly of Duluth, and David Haines weren’t at the Capitol but they followed the Senate debate Monday afternoon.
They had a traditional “family, friends and God” church wedding last November, Forbort said, three days before the marriage amendment vote. For them, it was about making a commitment to each other despite the status in law. They would let that settle itself.
“My faith is what guided me,” Forbort said of the ceremony.
“This is security,” he said of Monday’s vote. He is a Duluth native who now lives in the Twin Cities area.
The couple won’t redo what’s been done when it comes to a ceremony, but they plan to get their marriage certificate as soon as possible after the law goes into effect.
“After the crowds,” Haines said.
Forbort said their family and friends enjoyed “just another wedding” last fall and, now, so can others with the bonus of civil rights afforded to heterosexuals. He said it feels good to not be excluded.
He has mixed feelings about the marriage fight. He said he’s “cringed” at the arguments against same-sex marriage. He also says he can be sad while celebrating since there are so many people who are “troubled” by the new law.
“It’s just the way it is,” Haines said, convincing Forbort that the gains made outweigh wished-for consensus.
“It’s a good day,” Forbort said.
For many, being at the Capitol among the cheering and rejoicing made it an even better day.
“It’s a culmination of our journey,” Lundstrom said. “It’s just a dream come true.”
The couple will take another step in that journey soon.
“Tim Robinson, will you marry me in Minnesota on Aug. 1?” Lundstrom asked after the vote.
“Of course,” Robinson responded.
Three floors above, Moorhead couple Mara Morken and Alex Fogarty sat in the Senate gallery watching the debate live, and experiencing a similar range of emotions.
“That’s why I wore my waterproof mascara,” Morken said. “I’m going to cry either way.”
The two women, together for nine years today, wanted the bill to pass so their family can share health insurance and other practical benefits. They have two children.
“It’s not about a wedding; that is not what it means to us,” Morken said. “It’s about security and dignity.”
“That doesn’t mean I won’t have a fantastic dress,” she added, laughing
Morken and Fogarty plan to marry in Minnesota as soon as they can and hold a wedding celebration.
The couple was among a few who were able to get tickets to the gallery to see the debate. They watched intently as senators spoke, holding seating charts in their laps so they could see the names and faces of the lawmakers.
Experiencing the debate and vote firsthand was a special experience, they said.
“It was an honor to be in the room and hear the speeches in person,” Fogarty said.
But it also had its drawbacks. While they could hear the crowd of 2,800 chanting and cheering outside the Senate chamber, Morken and Lundstrom had to stay quiet in the gallery.
“There were times I wanted to yell,” Morken said, and times when she wanted to applaud.
Morken said she also was anxious as lawmakers talked, counting how many were speaking on each side of the issue and wondering if the bill would pass.
When it did, the couple was thrilled.
“I’m elated,” Morken said. “I can’t stop laughing and crying.”
“We’ve been together for nine years. Our relationship isn’t going to change,” Fogarty said, but a wedding and party will be “a celebration of our relationship.”