The Minnesota House voted on Thursday to advance a same-sex marriage bill, clearing a vital hurdle that brings the prospect of Minnesota becoming the 12th state to currently offer same-sex marriage rights a near reality.
The measure passed in a strong 75-59 vote, with two Democratic legislators voting against the bill and four of the Republicans’ 61 members of the House voting in favor — this a surprise given that prior to the vote, no Republican had voiced support for the measure.
Below, you can see key speeches and moments, including the vote itself.
1. A Call for Civility from Marriage Equality Opponents
Minnesota Representative Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) may earn the award for the most polite refusal to vote for marriage equality as he stood and told lawmakers why he personally couldn’t back the measure, but how he wanted to urge his fellow Republicans to be respectful during the debate, this in a marked departure from last year when many lies about the dangers of marriage equality were peddled to support a same-sex marriage ban:
2. Why Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships aren’t Enough
Many opponents in what admittedly was a respectful debate, suggested that civil unions should be enough for same-sex couples. An amendment was duly offered by Representative Tim Kelly that would have allowed for civil unions instead of marriage.
In testimony captured below, Representative Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) outlines a list of benefits that same-sex couples are denied in Minnesota because they cannot access the state’s definition of marriage. Crucially these rights, with a few exceptions, could be denied them even under civil union legislation.
Representative Barb Yarusso (DFL-Shoreview) adds to this list by speaking from personal experience about how her veteran parents were buried together in a specially designated plot, something same-sex couples are also currently denied:
The civil unions amendment was defeated 22-111.
3. Why One Lawmaker Changed His Mind to Support Minnesota’s Marriage Equality Law
Representative Tim Faust (DFL-11B) did not always support marriage equality, but in emotional testimony Thursday before the House he explained how it is he came to change his mind on this important issue after considering his privilege as a heterosexual man and his own marriage and why it is his duty to vote against this bill even though the majority in his district do not agree with the measure:
4. The Minnesota Marriage Equality House Vote as it Happened
Watch the author of Minnesota’s same-sex marriage bill, Representative Karen Clark (DFL-62A), make her closing argument for passing the bill and then see the vote as it happened. Listen close and you will hear the cheers of supporters in the background:
5. Representative Karen Clark Thanks Supporters of Minnesota’s Marriage Equality Bill
Clark, after the vote, took the time to thank marriage equality supporters, contextualizing this victory as one that belongs to those who fought and helped defeat the 2012 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and how that provided the fuel and fire to back the marriage equality bill:
The legislation now moves to the Senate, where a committee approved the bill in March and where rough estimates suggest there are enough votes to pass the bill even with a handful of Democratic legislators voting against. That vote is scheduled for Monday, May 13th.
Governor Mark Dayton, who symbolically vetoed the amendment to ban same-sex marriage last year, has pledged to sign the bill should it reach his desk. If the measure does pass, marriage equality would come into force in August.
It should be noted that Illinois is also looking at passing a marriage equality bill.
House lawmakers, facing the close of the session, have said they would not bring the measure to the floor unless they were sure they had the votes, though recent estimates suggest those numbers are close and Governor Pat Quinn is urging the House to send him the bill.
The Illinois Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day.
The Minnesota vote, such a marked turnaround from a year ago, may serve to bolster support in Illinois, with the potential for two more states set to join the marriage equality club by Friday of next week.
Image credit: Thinkstock.