In a vote 37 to 30, the Minnesota State Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage on May 13, 2013.
This makes Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the third state within the last couple weeks, following Rhode Island and Delaware in May. Minnesota joins eleven other states that have already passed freedom to marry laws. States where same-sex marriage is already legal include Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. A handful of states including Illinois, New Jersey, California and Hawaii are also likely to legalize gay marriage in 2013.
Minnesota and Iowa are currently the only Midwestern states that have legalized same-sex marriage. Iowa has permitted marriage between people of the same sex since 2009.
The gay marriage bill was sponsored by Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, one of three gay members of the Minnesota Legislature. During the debate, Senator Dibble mentioned his partner Richard Leyva, who although married in California, was not recognized as legal in Minnesota. "With just a few words, we have the ability to bring loving families across Minnesota into the full sunshine of equality and freedom they've been denied for so long.”
Conversation went back and forth between supporters and those against gay marriage with many opponents citing concerns about the protection of “religious liberties”. Senator Dan Hall, specifically shared his concern with being on the “right side of eternity”.
Proponents of the legalization of same-sex marriage shared a number of personal stories of friends and family members and their own experiences of finding love and marrying. The only Republican lawmaker to support the bill, Sen. Branden Petersen noted uncertainty of his future in office, but thanked his wife and left these words of advice for his children, just 1 and 2 years old.
“In all things related to your faith, your family, your freedom — be bold, be courageous. You’ll never forget a day in your life,” Petersen said.
What lies ahead for supporters, opponents and Minnesotans is unsure. Thousands of people celebrate and are hopeful that today we are at least on the right path to ensuring equality for all.
The public has been invited to join Governor Mark Dayton at the Minnesota State Capitol tomorrow at 5 PM when he signs marriage equality into law.