Gay ‘Baker v. Nelson’ Couple, Denied Marriage License in Minnesota in 1970, Still Together Today


The AP profiles Mike McConnell, left, and Jack Baker, who tried to obtain a Hennepin County marriage license in Minneapolis in May 1970, and challenged it in court:

The high court in October 1972 declined to hear arguments in Baker v. Nelson, rejecting it in a one-sentence dismissal “for want of a substantial federal question.” Now, in taking up the dispute over the California constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the court may confront the issue of whether the U.S. Constitution forbids states from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Baker and McConnell are still together today:

Forty years after they appeared in a “Look” magazine spread and on “The Phil Donahue Show,” Baker and McConnell have retreated from public life. The men, both 70, live in a quiet, nondescript south Minneapolis neighborhood. McConnell recently retired after a long career with the Hennepin County library system. Baker, a longtime attorney who ran unsuccessfully for Minneapolis City Council and a judgeship in the years after they pursued a marriage license, is mostly retired as well. Their case is no longer widely recalled in Minnesota, and the couple has mostly withdrawn from open activism, although the two men are working on a book about their lives…

…Asked via email why they pursued the case, Baker wrote, “The love of my life insisted on it.”

Minn. gay couple, who fought for legal right to marry in early ‘70s, still together [ap]


  1. Michael Bedwell says

    While Baker’s persistent foolishness about being legally married despite the government’s refusal to agree is sad, it is great to see these two pioneers remembered for what they did accomplish—raising consciousness about the reality of committed gay relationships when the belief of the nongay public that there was no such thing was universal. Alas, the idiocy of the Associated Press is something else that persists as evidenced by their know-nothing regurgitation of the myth that there was no “modern gay rights movement” before Stonewall.

  2. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Michael Bedwell: The AP referred to Stonewall as the “symbolic” start of the gay rights movement. I think that’s very true and does *not* deny the work done leading up to it. Then again, although I am a science geek, I do enjoy history – something which is sadly lacking in this country in general.

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