Minnesota took a step closer to becoming the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage today. Just months after Minnesota voters rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have banned same-sex marriage, the state’s House of Representatives voted 75-59 in favor of a same-sex marriage bill today.
Out lesbian Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-District 62A), who has been in office for more than 32 years, began the floor debate by sharing a photo taken of her, her partner and her late parents during at the Minneapolis gay pride parade after Minnesota became the first state to pass civil rights laws offering full protections to LGBT people.
"What I want you to do is read the sign they were carrying at that gay pride parade 20 years ago. They carried a sign that said, 'Our gay children should have the same rights as our heterosexual children,'" Clark said on the House floor as chants from supporters and opponents could be heard inside the chamber. "My family knew firsthand that same-sex couples pay our taxes, we vote, we serve in the military, we take care of our kids, our elders, and we run businesses in Minnesota. We work hard and contribute to the same Minnesota system as everyone else."
In an extensive and respectful debate, opponents of the bill advocated for civil unions for same-sex couples and warned against redefining marriage. Supporters, however, said the bill was a matter of fairness and equality, and adopted an amendment offered by Republicans to strengthen religious protections under the legislation.
Passage in the House was expected as Democrats hold a 73-61 majority over Republicans and advocates looked at the scheduling of the vote by House leadership as a sign the bill's passage was all but assured. Should the Democrat-controlled Senate follow suit, as they are expected to do next week, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has promised to sign the bill into law. Minnesota would become the third state legislature to legalize marriage equality this month, after Rhode Island and Delaware, and the first Midwestern state to do so.
[Photo: Minnesota House Chamber (Credit: Chris Gaukel/Wikimedia Commons)]