For lesbian and gay families in Minnesota nervously eyeing the first Tuesday in November, Senator Al Franken's remarks Thursday may bring a small measure of comfort.
During a visit to Lake Minnetonka, Franken staked out a strong position in same-sex marriage.
“People are understanding and coming around to understanding that this is a basic civil rights issue,” Franken said. “It wasn’t that long ago that interracial marriage was illegal, and now if you think about that and look back you say ‘that was wrong.'"
Franken rejected the idea he did not support what conservative leaders have called "traditional marriage" between a man and a woman.
“I’ve been married almost 37 years, and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me,” Franken said.
On May 23, a Washington, D.C. LGBT newspaper reported that the state's junior senator had also come out against a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The state already has a law banning same-sex marriage, but a "yes" vote on the amendment in November would prohibit future legislatures or state courts from finding a right to same-sex marriage in the Minnesota constitution.
Franken also co-sponsors the "Respect for Marriage Act," which would repeal a 1990s-era law barring federal recognition of same-sex couples. When President Barack Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage rights earlier this month, he did not explicitly endorse Franken's legislation. However, Franken applauded the President's announcement.
“I think he took the right stance,” Franken said.