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Minnesota House OKs marriage-equality bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The state House voted 75-59 today to approve a bill that would provide marriage equality for Minnesotans.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where passage is almost a certainty. The Senate plans to debate the bill Monday.

Gov. Mark Dayton is a leading supporter of the bill and has promised to sign it into law if approved. The law would go into effect on Aug. 1, 2013.

“This is one of those society-changing, breakthrough moments,” Dayton told the Minnesota Star-Tribune before the House vote. “The enormity of this bill cannot be overstated.”

Today's debate began with Rep. Karen Clark (DFL), a lesbian, talking about her partner and how her parents have always been supportive of the couple and gay rights. She said she believes Minnesotans are ready for marriage equality. "We pay our taxes ... We vote ... We take care of our elders ... We run businesses," she said.

As she spoke, chants could be heard from outside the House chamber, where hundreds of supporters who couldn't get seats in the gallery were gathered. Clark briefly paused and smiled.

Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL) said he has been living with his female partner for 15 years and they have chosen not to marry. But he said he has a choice to marry, and he wants that right to exist for gay and lesbian couples.

Rep. Jason Isaacson (DFL) talked about his unborn child, and hoped that his kid would live in a better world. "Love, no matter what, trumps all," he said, in announcing that he would vote yes for marriage equality.

Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL) said her yes vote was for "liberty, love and justice for all Minnesotans."

Rep. Kelby Woodard (R) said citizens are divided on this issue, and complained that the House was debating a divisive social issue rather than voting on economic issues. He contended that at least half of Minnesotans are against marriage equality, ignoring all the polls that say otherwise.

Rep. Pam Myhra (R) slandered gay and lesbian parents by contending (without citing any evidence) that children with a mom and a dad are achievers in school and that those without a mom and a dad aren't. Scientific evidence proves Myhra wrong.

During today's hearing, the lawmakers overwhelmingly voted down an amendment that would have redefined all marriages as civil unions.

During the November election, Minnesota voters rejected a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

If state lawmakers approve marriage equality, Minnesota would become the 12 U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Delaware (July 1, 2013), Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Vermont and Washington -- and in Washington, D.C. It also is legal within the Coquille Indian tribe in Oregon, the Suquamish Indian tribe in Washington state and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France (June 2013), Iceland, the Netherlands (and the Caribbean island of Saba), New Zealand (August 2013), Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay (July 2013, no later than Aug. 1).

In Mexico, same-sex marriage is available in the Federal District (Mexico City) and in the states of Oaxaca and Quintana Roo. The marriages are recognized nationwide by Supreme Court order.

In Brazil, same-sex marriage is legal in the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Paraíba, Rondônia, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. Elsewhere in Brazil, same-sex couples can enter into a "stable union" then go before a judge and convert the union into a full marriage.