NMG’s Condon, Bakst win AP award for gay-marriage scoop

Patrick Condon

Patrick Condon

Minnesota newsmen Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon shared last week’s AP Best of the States award for a scoop showing just how popular gay marriage is right after becoming legal in the state.

The two News Media Guild members came up with the idea of assessing the level of enthusiasm that had resulted in the law making Minnesota the 12th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriages. After activists either for the bill or opposed to it spent millions on the battle, the bill was passed by Minnesota’s Legislature and then signed by Gov. Mark Dayton this past May.

Since there was no government database tracking the resulting marriages, Bakst and Condon made their own. Through their persistence, they were able to collect records of newly issued marriage licenses from 83 of the 87 counties in Minnesota.

They found that nearly one-third of the new licenses went to gay couples.

Brian Bakst

Brian Bakst

One of the bill’s sponsors credited pent-up demand from the many same-sex couples who had been together for years, unable to marry.

The story by Condon and Bakst landed on at least three newspaper front pages in Minnesota and was splashed across Minnesota Public Radio’s home page. Bakst also was interviewed on an MPR public affairs show.