'House Parties' Raise Funds to Legalize Gay Marriage

Updated: 03/18/2013 10:46 AM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Supporters of making gay marriage legal in Minnesota held what they called "house parties" across the state Sunday, to raise money for their cause.

The effort comes as a bill that would change the law moved closer to passing in the state senate last week.

Minnesotans United for All Families says its supporters threw about 600 of these fund raising parties last year when they were trying to defeat the marriage amendment.

With that goal accomplished, they started party planning again--this year with about 200 parties.

"Hello and welcome," said Jane Holzer to her guests at the meet-and-greet she hosted at the Heltzer and Houghtaling law firm in downtown St. Paul. In keeping with the party theme, the mood was festive, and optimistic. "So we are almost there, here in Minnesota, and I'm really really excited about all the weddings that I'll be attending in the fall."

Holzer was married herself, to her long-time partner, in Iowa last fall--where gay marriage is legal.

According to Minnesotans United Finance Director Jake Blumberg, "All the money raised at the Sunday parties will go toward "investing in communications and research so we know exactly how to move forward strategically."

Two state bills that would make gay marriage legal in Minnesota appear headed to the floors of both legislative chambers. But the debate is only intensifying.

Rep. Erin Murphy, the DFL majority leader in the house attended Holzer's party. "People are moving on this question but for us it's about assessing whether they've moved far enough. Are they ready to go? We need to answer in America about what it means to be free and what it means to be equal."

Jake Loesch, the communications director for Minnesotans United, said, "I mean obviously money is not the most important thing. The most important thing is folks on the ground, calling their legislators."

On that, the opposition agrees.

"You know, this isn't the marriage campaign any more," said Autumn Leva, the communications director for Minnesota for Marriage. "Everybody doesn't get a vote. And so it's really important they be reaching out to their representatives and senators. Because as we've seen from every major poll since the November election, the majority of Minnesotans don't want marriage redefined. They want the law left the way that it is."

Jane Holzer, however, is already predicting victory. "And I definitely think that having to buy too many wedding gifts is a good problem to have," she said.

Neither side has officially reported fund raising totals since the end of the marriage amendment campaign. Minnesota for Marriage said it didn't have numbers available Sunday. Mnnesotans United estimates donations have topped $1 million since January.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com