ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Same-sex marriage bills are advancing at the State Capitol as on Tuesday, two legislative committees passed them.
This is the first time that any Minnesota legislative committee has ever backed marriage rights for gay couples. The next steps are votes by the full House and Senate. But lawmakers want to focus on the budget first, which could push back a marriage equality vote for several weeks.
Voters elected last November to shoot down a constitutional amendment that would keep marriage as a union only considered to be between one man and one woman. It paved the way for hearings at the State Capitol this week.
Both the House and Senate Committees heard emotional testimony from the public before voting along party lines in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted first, with five Democrats voting in favor and three republicans voting against the bill.
Then Tuesday night, the House Civil Law Committee passed its version of the bill 10-7. Lawmakers heard from pastors, doctors, parents, children and couples on both sides of the issue.
“After 25 years of waiting we were legally married. It was the best day of my life, then when we returned to Minnesota we were hit with the reality that our marriage was no longer recognized when we were processed separately at customs,” said Kate Wulf of St. Paul.
“If you vote for this legislation, this is a declaration that your wife plays no particular role in your kids’ lives,” said Doug Mainwaring with the National Tea Party Patriots. “And to the moms, a vote for this legislation indicates your husband is expendable.”
Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. If that happens, Minnesota will be the ninth state to legalize same-sex marriage. And those marriages could start on Aug. 1.