Minnesota State Senator Branden
Petersen is expected to sign on as the first Republican co-sponsor of
a gay marriage bill.
“At this point, I am concerned about
doing the right thing,” Petersen told the Star
Tribune. “I have a certain amount of peace about that, and
I will let the chips fall where they may.”
“It's only a matter of time before
same-sex marriage is legal. I thought it was important to engage the
issue now, and when we do it, do it right, and that there's some
perspective from the people I represent in that.”
The position would be a reversal for
Petersen, who voted in favor of a constitutional amendment limiting
marriage to heterosexual couples. Minnesota became the first state
to reject such an amendment last November.
At a Valentine's Day rally held at the
Minnesota state capitol rotunda, Senator Scott Dibble pledged to
introduce marriage equality legislation this week.
Dibble said he is willing to agree to
Petersen's additions to the bill guaranteeing that any religious
leader can choose not to wed gay couples and that children from such
marriages have the same financial guarantees as those from other
married couples in time of divorce.
Democrats regained control of the House
and Senate in 2012. But with several Democrats publicly opposing the
measure, Republican support is critical for passage.
“Republican support is something we
want to make sure we have,” said Jake Loesch, a Republican and
spokesman for Minnesotans United for All Families, the group pushing
for the legislation. “Republicans are weighing this issue … As
this conversation continues in the Legislature, there will be
Republicans who will vote for marriage.”
Petersen, whose father-in-law has been
in a relationship with another man for nearly 20 years, said he knows
“there are other Republicans who are interested in supporting