ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The man who led the successful effort to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota has taken a prominent job with a group pushing to make it legal in more U.S. states.

New York-based Freedom to Marry raises funds and works on legal strategies for same-sex marriage drives nationwide. The group announced Tuesday that Richard Carlbom will be its new director of state campaigns.

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Carlbom will direct the group’s push for gay marriage in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon in 2013 and 2014, and in at least six additional states by 2015-2016. Those could include Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Gay marriage is legal in 13 states. Gay marriage opponents have said they believe the task will get more difficult for supporters as they look to expand to more states.

Carlbom was campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which led the effort to defeat a gay marriage ban on Minnesota’s 2012 ballot. When that effort succeeded, the group shifted to being chief lobbyists for the bill to legalize it in the 2013 legislative session. Gay couples can start getting married in Minnesota on Aug. 1.

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Prior to his work on gay marriage, Carlbom was a Democratic political operative. He served as mayor of St. Joseph from 2005-07 and recently formed a St. Paul-based political consulting firm.

Marc Solomon, the national campaign director at Freedom to Marry, said Carlbom’s efforts to bring gay marriage to Minnesota were “a model of strategy, drive, and mobilization.” The group said the next states on its list will be targeted with both strategic lawsuits and efforts to engage the public on the issue.

Freedom to Marry was founded by lawyer and political strategist Evan Wolfson, who is often called the father of the modern movement for gay marriage.

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