Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Tuesday called lawmakers courageous for approving a gay marriage bill.

A large crowd estimated at 6,000 joined Dayton at the Capitol as he signed the bill into law.

“What a day for Minnesota, and what a difference a year and an election can make in our state!” Dayton said before putting pen to paper. “Last year there were concerns that marriage equality would be banned here forever. Now, my signature will make it legal in two and a half months. First and foremost, I want to thank the people of Minnesota who voted last year to defeat a very destructive constitutional amendment and also to elect courageous legislators who would support this monumental social advance. I want to thank the activists … who worked so long and so hard to win this extraordinary victory.”

“Last week, I suggested to you legislators that you read John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage book. Instead, you wrote its latest chapter. By your political courage, you join that pantheon of exceptional leaders who did something truly extraordinary: You changed the course of history for our state and our nation.”

In an appearance on MSNBC, Dayton, who had called on lawmakers to approve the bill, said that the bill's prospects looked dark at the start of the legislative session.

“I think most observers would have said that it's not going to pass,” Dayton said.

He went on to applaud the five Republicans and the many Democrats from districts with majorities opposed to marriage equality who voted for the bill.

“Senator [Branden] Petersen … is one of the real heroes in this. Republican senator who came out very early and said he was going to support it. There were four members, Republicans in the Minnesota House, who defied some of the radical right of their party to vote for it. And people ended up voting their own conscience. Democrats who are from rural areas who may have some challenges next fall because of this vote who didn't have to vote because it passed 75 to 59. But they wanted to vote, they wanted to do the right thing. And they were willing to put their careers on the line because they knew this was the right thing to do,” he said. (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)