Minnesota Senate to Debate Gay Marriage Bill; Expected to Pass

The upper house of the Minnesota Legislature will debate a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, a bill many believe will pass.

The Minnesota Senate has scheduled debate on Monday afternoon for the bill, which passed the Minnesota House of Representatives Thursday with a vote of 75 to 59.  According to the Huffington Post, the Democratic Party holds a firm majority in the Minnesota Senate and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has stated that he would sign the bill.

If passed, the bill would make Minnesota the eleventh state to legalize same-sex marriage and the second one located in the Midwest, with Iowa having legalized it via judicial fiat.

Earlier this month, Rhode Island became the tenth state to legalize gay marriage after Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a bill that garnered bipartisan support.

In addition to Rhode Island and Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.

Rick Jacobs, founder of the progressive group, said in a press release that the Rhode Island bill represents one of many successes in recent months. "Across the country we are seeing rapid and historic shifts towards equality and freedom for all. With 10 states down, and 40 to go, Rhode Island is leading the way into the double-digits of states that support marriage equality," said Jacobs.

Last November, Minnesotans put to a popular referendum a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Minnesota for Marriage championed the cause, which only garnered 48 percent of the vote and therefore failed to pass.

In March, Minnesota for Marriage organized a major demonstration at the Capitol steps in Saint Paul against the proposed legislation.

In a statement posted on their website, Minnesota for Marriage denounced the bipartisan bill to legalize same-sex marriage as an affront to religious liberty among other things.

"Just six months ago, we were told often and loudly that there were no real threats to the current definition of marriage. We publicly argued that this was false…The efforts to redefine marriage today speak for themselves," reads the statement in part.  "Now we are being told that redefining marriage poses no threat to religious liberty, and again, we argue that this is false. If we redefine marriage with the passage of this bill, over one million Minnesotans will be forced to either affirm what they believe to be false or subject themselves to prosecution and insult as 'bigots' and 'criminals under our law.'"

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