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MOORHEAD – Mayor Del Rae Williams is one of more than a dozen leaders of Minnesota cities – most of them in the Twin Cities area ­– publicly supporting same-sex marriage by joining the “Mayors for Marriage” roster of a national advocacy group. Williams, who served six years on the city’s Human Rights Commission, said it was “a no-brainer” for her to join the campaign by Freedom to Marry to get mayors across the U.S. to declare their support for gay marriage.

Moorhead’s Williams joins mayors backing gay marriage

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MOORHEAD – Mayor Del Rae Williams is one of more than a dozen leaders of Minnesota cities – most of them in the Twin Cities area ­– publicly supporting same-sex marriage by joining the “Mayors for Marriage” roster of a national advocacy group.

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Williams, who served six years on the city’s Human Rights Commission, said it was “a no-brainer” for her to join the campaign by Freedom to Marry to get mayors across the U.S. to declare their support for gay marriage.

“People are people, and in my view people should have equal marriage.

“I’ve personally been married 32 years this year. I don’t see how that (same-sex couples marrying) would affect my marriage,” she said.

“If a family has that opportunity to have that kind of bond, I think that would be good,” Williams said.

Minnesota’s Legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year, and the bill was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Falcon Heights, Edina, Eagan, Shakopee, Shoreview, Andover, Long Lake, Cloquet and Spring Park have also signed on as Mayors for Marriage.

In North Dakota, the mayors of Thompson and Pembina are part of the Mayors for Marriage initiative.

Online petitioners can nominate mayors who are urged to come out in favor of same-sex matrimony. Only the mayors of Fargo and Grand Forks have been urged to join the list for North Dakota.

“That is something I would want to think about,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said. “I’d have to think about it for a long time before I’d get involved in that.”

ND sees challenge

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C. In 12 other states, there are rulings issued by judges in favor of same-sex marriage, but in many cases they have been stayed as they move through the appeals court process, Freedom to Marry says on its website.

Three states offer broad protections short of marriage. Colorado offers civil unions, and Nevada offers a broad form of domestic partnership. Wisconsin has more limited provisions for domestic partnership, Freedom to Marry says.

North Dakota was the last state in the U.S. to have a challenge filed in court against its ban on same-sex marriage.

Seven couples filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fargo on June 6 challenging the ban and asserting that the state must recognize same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere.

Douglas Bahr, North Dakota’s solicitor general, filed a motion last week to dismiss the case, arguing that the U.S. Constitution leaves it up to individual states to define marriage.

North Dakota voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman a decade ago.

Freedom to Marry says on its website that it wants to have one of the challenges to same-sex marriage brought before the U.S. Supreme Court as early as 2015, but acknowledges the issue could linger through 2017 or longer.

Meanwhile, Williams plans to attend two weddings involving same-sex couples this summer.

“I personally think it’s going to be one of those things we’ll look back on, like (opposition to) Catholics and Lutherans being married. I remember it was an issue for my aunt,” Williams said.

“Stuff like that just seems silly to us right now. I suspect, generations from now, they’ll look back on this” and wonder why same-sex marriage was an issue, she said.

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Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.
(701) 241-5583
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