For the first time in its 11-year history, a sitting Minnesota governor attended the biggest annual gay rights activist gathering at the state Capitol.

"I'm proud to be here with you, to stand with you," Gov. Mark Dayton told about 1,000 people attending the Rally for Equality gathering Thursday afternoon."We'll continue to work to fulfill the aspirations of Minnesotans and Americans who want the same rights, freedoms, opportunities, respect, dignity and legal protections ... that everyone of their fellow citizens" enjoys.

Dayton pledged to push for a change in Minnesota law that would allow gay men and lesbians "to marry legally the man or woman he or she loves. I believe that day will come -- and come soon."

That's at the top of the agenda of OutFront Minnesota, the group that organized the day of lobbying legislators -- and is politically unlikely, given Republican control of both houses of the Legislature.

And conservative groups are pushing to place a state constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that would define marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman.

While OutFront pointed to recent national polls show that most Americans support same-sex marriage, the Minnesota Family Council countered with its own poll showing that more than half of Minnesota's registered voters believe that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman -- and that three-fourths want to vote on the issue.

After the rally, Dayton told reporters: "We are all equal in the eyes of my God." 

Andrew Wilfahrt was gay and deserves the same rights as every one of his fellow Minnesotans, his father said, adding that he "will seek whatever legal club I have" to fight a marriage amendment.

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