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Gay marriage hat trick: Will Minnesota make three?

As the US awaits the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage laws for same-sex couples, the states are approaching a gay marriage hat trick: Rhode Island last week, Delaware today, and possibly Minnesota by Saturday.

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Savick acknowledged the decision could cost her votes in 2014, when all House members are back on the ballot. A handful of House Democrats are still publicly undecided, and the House leaders wouldn't say exactly how many votes they had.

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"It could cost me the election. I represent a very conservative area," Savick said. "I hope I do enough good in other areas that they'll overlook that."

Thissen and Majority Leader Erin Murphy said they met privately with undecided members but that Democrats weren't pressured.

"This is not an issue that is subject to arm-twisting," said Murphy, of St. Paul. "This is an issue where members really have to reach their own conclusion and vote what they think is right for Minnesota."

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill on a split voice vote as Republicans raised concerns that legalizing gay marriage could cause unanticipated costs to Minnesota's courts.

Last year's general election results reflected an apparent shift in the public's attitude toward gay marriage. In addition to Minnesota's defeat of the proposed gay marriage ban, voters legalized gay marriage in three other states — Maine, Maryland and Washington.

Delaware became the 11th state to legalize gay marriage Tuesday when Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation approved by the state Senate less than an hour earlier. Last week, Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize gay marriage. In the Midwest, Iowa has had legal gay marriage since a 2009 judicial ruling. The Minnesota bill would make it the first Midwestern state to take the step by legislative vote, although the Illinois Legislature also is considering a bill to legalize gay marriage.

Richard Carlbom, who heads Minnesotans United, a group that campaigned against last fall's amendment and has subsequently pushed the gay marriage bill through the legislative process, said the group has been conservative in its vote counting, and that commitments from legislators have been double- and triple-checked.

Carlbom said he hoped those inclined to vote 'no' would consider the long view.

"The vote that will be taken in the House on Thursday will be remembered for the next 100 years," he said.

Associated Press writer Brian Bakst contributed to this report.

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