At midnight on Wednesday, Minnesota became the 12th state in America to legally recognize same-sex marriage, but some 42 years ago, a Minneapolis couple beat everyone else to the punch. Using some bureaucratic voodoo, Jack Baker and Mike McConnell tied the knot in 1971 in what is often referred to as “America’s first gay wedding.”
Baker legally changed his name to the gender-neutral Pat Lynne McConnell and the two men snatched their marriage license right from under Blue Earth County’s nose and were married by a young Methodist minister in Mankato.
Now 75 years old and retired, Pastor Roger Lynne said it was like any other wedding except for the groom and groom on the wedding cake and pronouncing them “husband and husband.” But it was the passionate kiss Jack and Mike shared, broadcast on television and scandalizing viewers at home, that really drove the point home.
“That was the moment when I really felt it viscerally,” Lynne told WCCO. “Like, oh, this is different.” While Baker and McConnell fought to have their marriage recognized, taking their case all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Lynne became a target of fist-shaking ire from across the country.
“I got a letter from Boston addressed to ‘Gay Hippie Minister Minneapolis‘ and it was vilifying what I had done,” he recalled.
Baker and McConnell predicted they would win eventually, but the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that their marriage was illegal. However, their license was never revoked. The men, now both in their 70s, are retired and don’t do interviews. Lynne, who still keeps in touch with them, says that they’re very happily married, calling theirs one of his “most successful marriages.”
Baker and McConnell have no plans to marry under Minnesota’s new marriage equality law because, as they told WCCO, they already are.