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House passes bill to legalize gay marriage

Published 1:34pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

ST. PAUL — A pivotal vote Thursday in the Minnesota House positioned that state to become the 12th in the country to allow gay marriages and the first in the Midwest to pass such a law out of its Legislature.

The 75-59 vote was a critical step for the measure, which would allow same-sex weddings beginning this summer. It’s a startling shift in the state, where just six months earlier voters turned back an effort to ban them in the Minnesota Constitution.

The state Senate plans to consider the bill Monday and leaders expect it to pass there too. Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign it into law.

“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,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Karen Clark, a Minneapolis Democrat who is gay. “… Same-sex couples should be treated fairly under the law, including the freedom to marry the person we love.”

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.

Four of the House’s 61 Republicans voted for the bill, while two of its 73 Democrats voted against it.

Opponents argued the bill would alter a centuries-old conception of marriage and leave those people opposed for religious reasons tarred as bigots.

“We’re not. We’re not,” said Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine. “These are people with deeply held beliefs, including myself.”

Pro-marriage demonstrators filled the hallways outside the House chambers, some dressed in orange T-Shirts and holding signs that read, “I Support The Freedom to Marry.” Behind them, opponents held up bright pink signs that simply read, “Vote No.”

Among the demonstrators was Grace McBride, 27, a nurse from St. Paul. She said she and her partner felt compelled to be there to watch history unfold. She said she hopes to get married “as soon as I can” if the bill becomes law. The legislation would allow her to do so starting Aug. 1.

“I have thought about my wedding since I was a little girl,” she said.

On the other side of the divide, the Rev. Steve Goold of New Hope Church led followers in a morning prayer before they set out to lobby lawmakers. He told them they had the power to change minds, but urged them to be respectful.

“Do not shout and boo. Pray,” Goold said. Galina Komar, a recent Ukrainian immigrant who lives in Bloomington, brought her four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son to the Capitol to express her religious concerns.

“I do believe in God, and I believe God already created the perfect way to have a family,” Komar said.

But gay marriage supporters also boasted faith leaders in their ranks.

“I’ve celebrated marriages for same-sex couples, but I’ve never been able to sign a marriage license for any of them,” said the Rev. Jay Carlson, pastor at a Minneapolis Lutheran church. “I look forward to the day when I can.”

Eleven other states allow gay marriages — including Rhode Island and Delaware, which approved laws in the past week. Minnesota would be the first state in the Midwest to pass the measure out of the Legislature.

Iowa allows gay marriages because of a 2009 court ruling. Leaders in Illinois — the only Midwestern state other than Minnesota with a Democratic-led statehouse — say that state is close to having the votes to approve a law too.

But most other states surrounding Minnesota have constitutional bans against same-sex weddings, so the change might not spread to the nation’s heartland nearly as quickly as it has on the coasts and in New England.

The Minnesota push for gay marriage grew out of last fall’s successful campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have banned it. Minnesota became the first state to turn back such an amendment after more than two dozen states had passed one over more than a decade.

The same election put Democrats in full control of state government for the first time in more than two decades, a perfect scenario for gay marriage supporters to swiftly pursue legalization. They tapped the cross-section of citizens, businesses, churches and others who spoke out against the amendment and staged rallies as part of a lobbying effort to build support.

The bill cleared committees in both chambers in March, and with a succession of national polls showing opposition to gay marriage falling away nationally.

“There are kids being raised by grandparents, single parents, two moms or two dads,” said Rep. Laurie Halverson, a Democrat from the Twin Cities suburbs. “Some of those folks are my friends. And we talk about the same things as parents. We talk about large piles of laundry, and how much it hurts to step on a Lego. That’s what we do, because we’re all families.”

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  • ConcernedChristian79

    God save our souls!

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    • Jones

      Haha. Relax, everything will be just fine. Did you say the same thing when interracial marriage was legalized?

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      • ConcernedChristian79

        Jones, as a Christian I support “Biblical” marriage. Between an man and a woman. Good for the gender-confused to get to married. It’s just a piece of paper anyway. What matters is between God and the individual. They’re the one who has to stand before him someday and be judged. I’m not worried about that. And interracial marriage was still between a man and a woman. That’s GREAT, they way God intended it.

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  • American

    Who needs morels and values! Fear not the inmates in the asylum in St. Paul and in Washington are looking out for us.

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    • grampa jones

      Sorry, discrimination is not a “value” or “moral” I will be teaching my children.

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  • ConcernedChristian79

    Christian’s need to be stronger now more than ever. The more and more they(politicians) remove God from State, the more and more darkness spreads over our world/country. The more “Christian” values removed from our “faith-based” Constitution, the more sinister our culture becomes. Removed God from schools….now there is more room for Satan and his evil ways.
    I ask that Christian’s pray and continue to love everyone equally. Don’t let hate into your lives. We will never support anything not writen in the Bible. Be strong! Give your worries to God, hoping he places people into office who will obey “Christian values”.

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    • Grampa Jones

      The same people who use the bible for this issue also used to use it to justify slavery. Sorry people, the public is no longer buying the “Well, it’s in the Bible” argument.

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  • Jillian Flink

    That’s really nice that you guys all have Christian beliefs, however, there is such thing as a separation between church and state, and it needs to apply!! It shouldn’t even require further discussion after that point! Especially in cases like this that have to do with human and civil rights. God help us is right! Are you this concerned about the environmental crisis or other things that are truly life and death situations in the world, or are you too busy focusing on being an impediment other people’s civil rights? A “Biblical” marriage would require that the wife be a virgin and if not she should be put to death- that means no serial monogamy, now practically an American tradition. Are you gonna try to pass an amendment about THAT?? What’s the difference? Explain to me why Christians aren’t trying to enforce THAT rule. Seriously, indulge me! I’m dying to know how you pick and choose what you think is relevant.

    And you know what else? The Anti-Gay Marriage movement brought this on THEMSELVES! Trying to pass a discriminatory CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT brought all the attention to this, and people decided they weren’t going to let ignorance hurt their friends and neighbors who happened to be GLBT. I am a Christian too. Jesus said love God and love your neighbor, those are the greatest two commandments. I love my neighbor, and only God can judge, so until that time I will support equal rights for everyone, and will be supporting politicians who feel the same way.

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    • ConcernedChristian79

      You’re talking a lot about the Old Testament. Jesus has died for our sins, hence… New Testament. If this were Old Testament days…then yes, women would’ve been stoned for not protecting their virginity. Luckily we’re 2000+ years past that!

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      • Jillian Flink

        Ummm, well divorce is still called an “abomination” in the NT and considered unclean, as is homosexuality, and a ton of other things. There are many more verses describing certain foods- seafood, winged animals, etc- that are abominations than there are verses about homosexuality. You can sit here all day and play Bible semantics but the bottom line is you pick and choose what you feel like following in the Bible, and, in the process, are placing your judgment on people you don’t even know! And, not everyone that lives here is Christian. What if you were a religious minority? How would you feel about stuff you don’t even believe in dictating your rights? Seriously.

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      • GrampaJones

        It’s always a great thing to be able to pick and choose what to believe from God’s word. So God’s word was cancelled out then? What he is infallable, no wait, maybe he isn’t oh wait shoot I’ve got it confused again. What about slavery? its in the new and the old testament, and no eating shellfish, right? But wait….the list goes on and on. Put down the Bible; the only people who want to use the Bible are people who haven’t read it. It gives us little guidance in a reasonable and rationale world. Sorry!

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