Minnesota House Speaker Paul Thissen has applauded Republicans for helping a gay marriage bill clear the House on Thursday.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Thissen, a Democrat, said the four GOP votes the bill received were a surprise to him.

“I did not” know about the Republican votes, he said. “I had an inkling we might, but we didn't call the vote until we knew we had the votes on our side.”

“I think it's hugely significant, because it shouldn't be a partisan issue,” Thissen continued. “And nationally, it's really not. There are so many Republicans across the country that do support moving in this direction. And so what that means, for the state, for the conversation we're having, is that it has moved beyond being a partisan issue to being an issue about Minnesotans and their freedom and equality. And I think that's hugely important.”

The measure now heads to the Minnesota Senate, where its prospects look bright. Senator Branden Petersen in February became the first GOP senator to publicly announce his support for the measure.

(Related: Unanimous Republican support for gay marriage in Rhode Island Senate.)