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Minnesota becomes 12th U.S. state to grant marriage equality

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The state Senate voted 37-30 today to approve a bill that will legalize marriage equality for Minnesotans. Cheers erupted from the gallery and out in the hallways, which were crowded with supporters.

Last week, the state House voted 75-59 to pass the bill. Gov. Mark Dayton, a leading supporter of the bill, plans to sign the bill into law at 5 pm Central Time on Tuesday, May 14. The law will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2013.

Openly gay state Sen. Scott Dibble had the honor of introducing the House bill to his Senate colleagues, who by voice vote adopted the language of HF 1054. He called the marriage bill "very simple" and said "sometimes the simplest things have great power" to change lives. Dibble also got to give a final appeal to support the bill, and he talked about his husband, Richard, whom he married in 2008 in California.

Sen. Terri Bonoff said she was voting for the bill for her gay brother and her gay friends as well as for her former intern who came out to her in a letter, which she read to the full Senate.

Sen. Jeff Hayden, who is African-American, recalled Loving v. Virginia and said that without that groundbreaking law he would not have been able to marry his wife, Terri, who is white. He said his young daughter reminded him this morning to vote "yes."

The Senate debate, which stretched out for more than four hours, was civilized. A few dissenters worried about possible constrictions on religious liberties, but an amendment that would have given broad waivers to any group associated with religion was easily defeated, 41-26.

Earlier today, St. Paul's mayor renamed the Wabasha Street Bridge over the Mississippi River to the "Wabasha Street Freedom to Marry Bridge" and city workers placed rainbow flags all along the bridge. See the photo at the left, found on Facebook.

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

Minnesota becomes 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, Minnesota (Aug. 1, 2013), 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.