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In allowing same-sex marriage, Minnesota joins worldwide movement

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On Aug.1, it became legal in Lake County for same-sex couples to marry. In fact, if you go to the courthouse in Two Harbors to apply for a marriage license, the form now asks for the names of "First Applicant" and "Second Applicant" instead of "Bride" and "Groom."

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Minnesota has now joined California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C. in permitting same-sex marriage. The total population now living in states with marriage equality is 95 million - almost one-third of the total U.S. population.

And we forget that this sudden change is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Last month, Queen Elizabeth - hardly a social radical - signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales. The bill was backed by all three major political parties. In fact, it was Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the tradition-minded conservatives, who proposed the legislation in the first place.

Thus England and Wales join the fifteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and Uruguay) that have passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. The total population now living in countries with marriage-for-all is 641 million (9 percent of the world's people). A year ago, it was 289 million.

Polls show that about 55 percent of the American people now support same-sex marriage. It seems certain that this percentage will increase every day until the entire United States joins the list of countries that grant marriage equality. Indeed, in his dissent to the Supreme Court decision invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that "the real rationale of today's opinion is that DOMA is motivated by a bare ... desire to harm couples in same-sex marriages. ... How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status."

Besides bringing about greater social acceptance of same-sex couples, these changes in the law also carry financial benefits under the Social Security and Medicare laws. As Jennifer Waters pointed out in the Wall Street Journal (July 14), "Gay and lesbian couples will be eligible for valuable spousal and survivor benefits that could be worth tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars to each household." President Barack Obama has promised that all relevant federal benefits and obligations will be implemented "swiftly and smoothly," including retirement and health benefits.

Thus we will continue moving forward into a better future.

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