The Minnesota Senate on Monday approved
a gay marriage bill, paving the way for Minnesota to become the 12th
state to legalize such unions.
After a roughly four-hour debate, the
Senate approved the measure with a 37-30 vote, four days after the
Minnesota House approved the measure. It was a dramatic reversal for
the chamber which just two years earlier approved a constitutional
amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union. Voters felt
differently and rejected the proposal last November, setting in
motion a new push to approve gay nuptials in Minnesota.
Senator D. Scott Dibble, a Democrat and
the bill's champion in the chamber, opened the debate by walking
through the bill's provisions.
Two Republican senators, Paul E.
Gazelka and Warren Limmer, who strongly backed last fall's
unsuccessful attempt to constitutionally prohibit such unions,
introduced an amendment to the bill expanding its religious
exemptions to private citizens and businesses.
Dibble, who in 2008 married his husband
Richard Leyva in California, argued against the amendment, saying its
unconstitutionality would sink the entire measure.
The amendment failed by a 41-26 margin.
A second amendment introduced by
Republican Senator Torrey Westrom sought to preserve gendered
language in civil law for all couples. It failed with a 36-31 vote.
Republican Senator Dan Hall urged
senators to reject the bill, saying that “homosexual marriage”
will hurt children and lead to greater “indoctrination.” He
added that he would rather be on the “right side of eternity”
than the “right side of history.”
Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has
pledged to sign the bill into law.
The law is expected to take effect on
August 1, the same day that gay and lesbian couples in Rhode Island
can begin marrying in that state.