MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton made history Friday in appointing the first openly-gay justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Dayton named Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich to the high court. She said she is fully aware of the symbolism of her appointment.

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“So I think if there are gay attorneys or gay people thinking about going to law school, I think it’s important for them to know there are no barriers to their dreams,” said Chutich, who served as an Appeals Court judge since 2012.

Chutich said she and her partner, Penny Wheeler, have been together 20 years, but were married just two years ago, after Minnesota legalized gay marriage.

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Dayton says he was aware of Churtich’s sexual orientation, but it was not part of his decision.

“I look for diversity in my appointments to the court, and I think my record shows that I have given that very careful consideration,” said Dayton, a Democrat. “I think you are just looking for the very best people.”

Five other states already have gay justices: Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

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Chutich fills the vacancy left by former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Wilhemina Wright, who was named to the federal court bench.