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Topics In the News
 
Minnesota House Passes Marriage Equality Bill
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 05/09/13
Last updated on: 05/09/13
 
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On May 9, 2013, after a three-hour debate, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a marriage equality bill on a vote of 75 to 59. The state Senate will convene on Monday May 13 to consider the bill. With its expected passage in the Senate and signature by Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota will become the twelfth state to permit same-sex couples to marry.

In November 2012, Minnesota voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The ill-fated amendment represented a political miscalculation by the state Republican Party, which attempted to use same-sex marriage as a wedge issue to energize its base. However, it had the opposite effect. Not only did the amendment fail, but the Democrats took control of both houses of the legislature by large margins.

During the debate, an amendment was adopted that added the word "civil" in front of marriage to emphasize that the legislation affects civil marriage, not religious marriage. An amendment that would have replaced marriage in Minnesota with civil unions for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples was voted down.

Four of the House's 61 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while two of the House's 73 Democrats voted against the bill.

Openly gay Representative Karen Clark was the lead sponsor of the bill in the House. During the debate she said, "My family knew firsthand that same sex couples pay our taxes, we vote, we serve in the military, we take care of our kids and our elders and we run businesses in Minnesota. . . . Same-sex couples should be treated fairly under the law, including the freedom to marry the person we love."

She also paid tribute to her partner of 24 years and to the late Allen Spear, who was the first openly gay member of the Minnesota legislature and a tireless supporter of equal rights.

According to the Star-Tribune, "Hundreds of supporters and opponents gathered outside the House chamber up to and during the debate, chanting and waving signs. They sang 'We Shall Overcome' and a John Lennon song in the minutes before the vote."

The debate was intense, but notably civil, with little of the rancor and Bible-thumping evident in the Delaware Senate debate earlier this week.

In the video below, some of the Representatives speak about the significance of the historic vote.

 
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