A Minnesota Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill which seeks to make Minnesota the 10th state to legalize gay marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with a 5-3 vote.

A House committee is also holding hearings on the bill and is expected to vote on it later today.

State Rep. Karen Clark, an openly gay Democrat, told members of the House Civil Law Committee that approving the measure is the right thing to do.

“No Minnesotan should be told it is illegal to marry the person they love, and that includes me, and many people that you all know and love,” said Clark, a co-sponsor of the measure.

The issue of marriage equality has returned to the Minnesota Capitol four months after voters in the state became the first to reject an amendment which sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union.

Opponents testifying at the hearing argued that supporters were confusing opposition to the amendment with support for marriage equality.

“We were told that if the amendment was defeated our marriage laws wouldn't change, and same-sex marriage would remain illegal,” Pastor Gus Booth told lawmakers. “We now know that we were sold a false bill of goods. In fact it didn't take more than a month before the mask was pulled off and we learned that the real objective was to defeat the amendment and then to force gay marriage on all Minnesotans. In northern Minnesota, we don't appreciate this kind of bait and switch tactic.”

A former Republican state representative testified that she regretted her vote to put the issue on the ballot.

“Voting no today this session might seem politically expedient,” an emotional Lynne Osterman said. “But I can tell you from experience that you will have to live knowing that a no vote is not fair, it's not respectful and it's not equal.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

The AP reported that the bill enjoys the support of 9 lawmakers in the 17-member House Civil Law Committee, making its passage highly likely.