Minnesota Rep. Steve Simon, a Democrat, on Thursday fought back tears as the Minnesota House debated a proposed gay marriage bill.

Two years earlier, as lawmakers debated a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union which was later rejected by voters, Simon asked ban supporters whether, if sexuality is a gift from God, “what does that mean to the moral force of your argument?”

“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?” he asked to a round of applause.

On Thursday, before colleagues approved the bill, Simon returned to that theme, describing a rabbi asking his students what is the precise moment when night ends and a new day starts.

“The moment when night ends and a new day begins is the moment when you look into the face of a stranger and see the face of your brother,” an emotional Simon said. “Until that moment no matter what time it is, it's still night. But at that moment, that's when the new day begins.”

“We should embrace” the embrace of the gay community, Simon added.

“I think slowly as a society we're going to the realization – some faster than others – those in the GLBT community do not have some condition to be pitied or prayed away. What they have is a God-given orientation, which should be celebrated and welcomed.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

The Senate is expected to debate the bill on Monday.

(Related: Minnesota gay marriage: A victory for Rep. Karen Clark.)