Minnesota Senate approves bill legalizing gay marriage

Mon May 13, 2013 10:01pm EDT
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By David Bailey

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Reuters) - Minnesota's Senate on Monday approved a bill that would make Minnesota the 12th U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to marry and only the second in the Midwest, advancing it to the governor, who said he would sign it on Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled state Senate voted 37-30 to pass the bill legalizing gay marriage, putting Minnesota on the verge of becoming the third state in the nation to approve same-sex nuptials in May after Rhode Island and Delaware.

Minnesota's House approved the bill last week and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton said he would sign it into law on Tuesday in a ceremony on the steps of the Capitol. It will take effect on August 1.

Minnesota joins Iowa as the only other Midwestern state to permit gay marriage and will be the first to do so through legislation. Iowa has permitted same-sex marriage since 2009 under a state Supreme Court order.

After the vote, Senator Scott Dibble, the lead Senate sponsor, said supporters of the bill needed "to go forward with grace and understanding of the people who were on the other side of this issue."

"To the extent that there is divisiveness, we can bridge those differences," said Dibble, who married his spouse, Richard Leyva, in California in 2008.

The Minnesota House had been expected to be the bigger hurdle, but representatives voted 75-59 on Thursday to approve a bill with some Republican support.

The votes were a sharp reversal for Minnesota's legislature. Two years ago, Republicans controlled both chambers and bypassed the governor to put forward a ballot measure that would have made the state's current ban on gay marriage part of the state constitution.   Continued...