Star Tribune: 43 years later, Minneapolis couple's fight for marriage vindicated

By Jenna Ross
Star Tribune

Their intuition came from different sources: Jack Baker, from his time in law school, and Michael McConnell, from his belief that “love is the most powerful force in the universe.”

But both men felt sure in 1970, after becoming the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license, that gay marriage would become legal throughout the United States.

They just never imagined that it would take more than 40 years. “I was off by a few decades,” Baker said last week in the dining room of the south Minneapolis home they’ve restored over that time. Beside him, McConnell chuckled.

Back in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court refused — with a one-sentence dismissal — to hear their argument for a marriage license. So when the same court recently decided that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry, there was direct personal vindication for Baker and McConnell in a line tucked in the majority opinion: “Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled …”

The decision “represents a kind of constitutional apology to Jack Baker and Mike McConnell, 43 years later,” said Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota law professor and authority on sexual orientation and the law.

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