Same-sex couples lined up at government offices in the Twin Cities this morning to apply for marriage licenses for the very first time, just a few weeks after same-sex marriage was made legal in the state.

The law legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota was signed in May by Gov. Mark Dayton and takes effect on Aug. 1. Officials in Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties are taking applications early. Couples will receive a post-dated marriage license the same day.

Minnesota has a five-day waiting period for all marriage licenses. Counties that are taking early applications will do so until July 26. Instead of sections for bride and groom, Minnesota marriage licenses now read “first applicant” and “second applicant.”

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(MPR Photos/Jennifer Simonson) — See more photos here

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann announced today that she will not seek re-election in 2014. Here’s a look at her political career, in photos.

Top: Michele Bachmann served in the Minnesota state Senate from 2001 to 2007. Here, in 2006, she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that would put the definition of marriage on that year’s ballot as a constitutional amendment. The bill ultimately failed. (Minnesota House Television Services)

Bottom: Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Amy Klobuchar ceremonially break ground for the St. Croix Crossing bridge in Stillwater, Minn. Monday, May 28, 2013. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

Tags: minnesota

From reporter Curtis Gilbert:
Abdi Warsame’s campaign has an ambitious mission: Change the way his fellow Somali-Americans see politics.
Although Warsame has never run for office before, last month he won the DFL party endorsement over a three-term incumbent. If successful, he could be the first Somali-American elected to the Minneapolis City Council.
"This community that I’m from doesn’t believe in the system. They only think President Obama solves problems," Warsame said. "So when there’s a presidential election, they get very excited. But they don’t understand that what actually impacts their lives is dealt with not by the federal government, but by the local government, the city."
Warsame ticks off a list of concerns facing his community: jobs, roads, housing, youth in need of mentors. He says his campaign has mobilized a community that now understands city politics matter.
As evidence, Warsame points to the Minneapolis DFL Ward 6 convention last month when his supporters dominated the delegation and easily handed him the party endorsement.
"You see these old ladies waving American flags, with the hijabs, and crying and feeling that they were part of the system. And I think that’s the most powerful thing, and that’s what motivates me," Warsame said.
Continue reading…

From reporter Curtis Gilbert:

Abdi Warsame’s campaign has an ambitious mission: Change the way his fellow Somali-Americans see politics.

Although Warsame has never run for office before, last month he won the DFL party endorsement over a three-term incumbent. If successful, he could be the first Somali-American elected to the Minneapolis City Council.

"This community that I’m from doesn’t believe in the system. They only think President Obama solves problems," Warsame said. "So when there’s a presidential election, they get very excited. But they don’t understand that what actually impacts their lives is dealt with not by the federal government, but by the local government, the city."

Warsame ticks off a list of concerns facing his community: jobs, roads, housing, youth in need of mentors. He says his campaign has mobilized a community that now understands city politics matter.

As evidence, Warsame points to the Minneapolis DFL Ward 6 convention last month when his supporters dominated the delegation and easily handed him the party endorsement.

"You see these old ladies waving American flags, with the hijabs, and crying and feeling that they were part of the system. And I think that’s the most powerful thing, and that’s what motivates me," Warsame said.

Continue reading…

From reporter Jess Mador:

Patrick Nelson, a former Army paratrooper, was injured in a June 2005 explosion in Afghanistan during an attack on a landing strip in a remote village. Two other soldiers died. His body is still riddled with shrapnel.

Covering Nelson’s biggest scar is a tattoo of a cross on his back that he got after the explosion. Inscribed on the cross is the date of the attack and the initials of a friend who died. Since that day, he has been taking painkillers. He’s up to eight Vicodin pills a day, but it no longer dulls his ache.

After he was injured Nelson wanted to continue serving in the military and thought he would have to accept the persistent back pain in combat. In the mountains of Afghanistan, medics would sometimes administer muscle relaxer to ease his pain.

"It was my job at the time. I didn’t really have an option," he said. "I wasn’t the type of guy to go and raise my hand and say, ‘Ah, I can’t do this one,’" he said. "You train with those guys for so long, and I had already deployed twice. It’s not like I was scared or didn’t know what I was getting into."

But his injuries affected his military service. Ailing and no longer able to keep up with younger paratroopers, he left the military in 2008.

Doctors diagnosed him with a shoulder injury, bulging discs and a degenerative arthritis condition in his back. Nelson, 30, also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a possible brain injury.

The VA has classified Nelson as 90 percent disabled and sends him a disability check every month. Despite his high disability rating, he works as an event coordinator for a nonprofit golf organization and spends much of every day trying to ignore his pain.

"I would give anything to be pain-free right now and to not get that check every month and just to live a normal life," he said.

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2 Minnesota women sentenced in Somali terror case
From reporter Brandt Williams:
Two Rochester women convicted of sending money to an Islamist terrorist group in Somalia were sentenced to 20- and 10-year prison terms Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Attorneys representing the women had requested much shorter sentences and say they are disappointed by the decisions of U.S. District Judge Michael Davis. Some members of the Somali community say they are upset by the length of the sentences and were offended by how the women were treated in court.
Before issuing the punishments, Davis took time to ask each woman if they supported jihad, suicide bombings and Sharia law. “Does she understand there are some Muslim women who wear dresses or short skirts?” Davis asked Hassan’s interpreter. Davis said the questions were to determine the likelihood of the women to continue to support terrorist causes when they are released from prison. The questions often caused ripples of reaction in the courtroom gallery.
"Those religious questions were inappropriate," said Hassan Mohamud, a St. Paul imam. "Because every American — every American in America, whether you are Somali or not — has First Amendment rights."
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(Photo: Supporters of two Somali women scheduled to be sentenced for helping a terrorist group gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Minneapolis. Credit: MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)

2 Minnesota women sentenced in Somali terror case

From reporter Brandt Williams:

Two Rochester women convicted of sending money to an Islamist terrorist group in Somalia were sentenced to 20- and 10-year prison terms Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Attorneys representing the women had requested much shorter sentences and say they are disappointed by the decisions of U.S. District Judge Michael Davis. Some members of the Somali community say they are upset by the length of the sentences and were offended by how the women were treated in court.

Before issuing the punishments, Davis took time to ask each woman if they supported jihad, suicide bombings and Sharia law. “Does she understand there are some Muslim women who wear dresses or short skirts?” Davis asked Hassan’s interpreter. Davis said the questions were to determine the likelihood of the women to continue to support terrorist causes when they are released from prison. The questions often caused ripples of reaction in the courtroom gallery.

"Those religious questions were inappropriate," said Hassan Mohamud, a St. Paul imam. "Because every American — every American in America, whether you are Somali or not — has First Amendment rights."

Continue reading…

(Photo: Supporters of two Somali women scheduled to be sentenced for helping a terrorist group gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Minneapolis. Credit: MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)

High temperatures and desert-like humidity readings are helping drive an outbreak of wildfires in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center on Wednesday said the Green Valley Fire near Menahga has prompted evacuations and has damaged some structures in the area. They nearly doubled the estimated size of the fire to 7,100 acres this afternoon.

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Thousands of cheering spectators filled the south lawn of the State Capitol to watch Gov. Mark Dayton sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage into law.

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These photos capture the scene at the Capitol yesterday when the Minnesota Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the 12th state to do so.

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