The Minnesota House passed a gay marriage bill on Thursday by a vote of 75-59. The vote was seen as a critical step for the bill, which could position the state as the 12th in the country to allow gay marriage — and the first in the Midwest.
The bill would allow same-sex weddings starting August 1 and is a huge shift for Minnesota, where voters turned back an effort to ban the marriages in the Minnesota Constitution just six months ago.
Now that the House has passed the bill, it is slated to go before the Senate on Monday, where it is expected to pass. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has already pledged to sign the bill into law.
Eleven other states in the Union already allow gay marriage. Rhode Island and Delaware are included, as they approved laws in the past week. But Minnesota would be the first Midwest state to pass the measure out of the Legislature. Iowa allows gay marriage because of a 2009 court ruling.
But other than Iowa, most other states around Minnesota have constitutional bans against same-sex marriage, meaning the change will likely take a longer time to spread from the coasts to the nation’s heartland. The push for gay marriage in Minnesota stemmed from a vote in November that successfully defeated a campaign to ban the practice in the constitution.
The same election that defeated the ban also placed Democrats in foll control of Minnesota’s government for the first time in over 20 years. The scenario was perfect for gay marriage supporters to pursue legislation. The same-sex marriage bill already cleared committees in both chambers in March.
The gay marriage bill’s passage came after debate in the House on Thursday afternoon. Supporters and opponents gathered outside the chamber to express their ideas on the bill. Opponents argued that the gay marriage bill would alter the centuries-old conception of marriage, leaving those people opposed for religious reasons branded as bigots.
Supporters, like the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Karen Clark, explained, “… Same-sex couples should be treated fairly under the law, including the freedom to marry the person we love.” Clark is openly gay.
Are you surprised to see the Minnesota House pass a gay marriage bill?
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