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Minnesota governor expected to sign same-sex marriage bill (+video)

The Minnesota state Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage Monday. If the governor signs it, Minnesota will become the 12th state to sanction gay marriage.

By Staff writer / May 13, 2013

A gay marriage supporter waves the US flag and a rainbow flag as supporters and opponents of Minnesota's gay marriage bill gather in the State Capitol rotunda in St. Paul as the Senate prepares to take up the issue Monday. The Senate passed the bill.

Jim Mone/AP

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Minnesota moved one step closer to becoming the 12th US state to recognize same-sex marriage on Monday when the state Senate voted 37 to 30 to approve a bill establishing equal civil rights to marry for gay men and lesbians.

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Cheers flooded the Senate chamber and cascaded through the surrounding halls as word spread of the bill’s passage. Minnesota’s House of Representatives approved the measure last week and Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday.

If he does, Minnesota will become the third state this month to legalize same-sex marriage. The governor of Rhode Island signed a bill May 2, and Delaware's governor signed a bill on May 7. In Minnesota, same-sex marriages could begin as early as August 1.

The action there came after 4-1/2 hours of impassioned, heartfelt debate on both sides of the issue.

“I am proud to be a Minnesotan today,” Sen. Scott Dibble, a sponsor of the bill, told his colleagues.

Senator Dibble said he and his partner were married in California in 2008 because no similar option existed in his home state. “Here in Minnesota, Richard and I are legal strangers to each other. How can that be OK?” 

The final vote largely tracked party lines. Several Republican senators expressed concern that the same-sex marriage law would be the beginning of the end of traditional family life.

“I think this is a wrong step in history, a step that we should not be going down,” Sen. Torrey Westrom said. “We should affirm what the legislature did in 1997, keep the statute in place and keep mother and father in marriage.”

Republican Sen. Dan Hall was worried that the measure would outlaw certain religious beliefs about homosexuality.

“It will threaten religious liberty. Today we may be changing the course of freedom for our children and our grandchildren,” Senator Hall said. “Freedom can only be free if we keep our moral compass, if we resolve to strengthen marriage instead of dismantle it.”

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