MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Minn. Senate passes Freedom to Marry Act

MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Minn. Senate passes Freedom to Marry Act 37-30

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Photo by Tim Blotz Photo by Tim Blotz
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The Minnesota Senate approved the Freedom to Marry Act on Monday, just days after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota passed the House on a 75-59 vote.

The historic legislation passed by a vote of 37-30, and it was greeted by loud cheers from supporters who had gathered in the Capitol rotunda.

"I actually said, 'I want a picture of me with the score board,' the voting board in the background because it's such an historic day," said Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul). "It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

The debate began at noon, and after three and a half hours, lawmakers moved to their final speeches. When they did, the crowds of supporters and opponents inside the Capitol began to cheer. 

Their voices could be heard in the Senate chamber as Sen. Scott Dibble, who is both openly gay and the bill's chief sponsor in the Senate, made his final remarks prior to the vote.

"Members, we do this for the people we hear outside in the halls of this great hall, the peoples' building, who are here on both sides," he said. "This is democracy, and they're here, talking about their hopes. We hear them cheering."

He began by reading portions of Langston Hughes' poem "Let America Be America Again" and asked his colleagues to listen to the people's voices as demonstrators chanted "vote yes."

"We are redefining nothing," Dibble said. "We are joining and affirming the thing we cherish and prize and value the most.

The bill now moves the desk of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who has vowed to sign the bill into law on the Capitol's south steps at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

St. Paul city officials announced an outdoor concert will be held immediately following the signing. More than half a dozen performers are booked for the "Love is Law" celebration at a downtown plaza.

WHAT CHANGES?

The bill changes the word "marriage" in state law to "civil marriage," and changes the definition of those eligible from "a man and a woman" to "two persons."

Same-sex couples would be able to marry starting on Aug. 1.

"For thousands of families, life will be better. That will change," Dibble said during his final speech on the floor. "We will be treating people fairly and we will be removing the barriers they have had to the full joys life has to offer. In so doing, we strengthen ourselves and we strengthen our democracy."

Minnesota will become the 12th state in the nation to adopt marriage equality legislation.

WHAT WAS SAID?

"I vote today to ratify life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth)

"Today we have the power, the awesome humbling power, to make dreams come true." - Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), the bill's author

"After this vote is cast, help us to move beyond the moment to see ourselves not as winners and losers." - Rev. Dennis Morriem, before the Senate

"Members, this is the wrong stem in history." - Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake)

"In my heart of hearts, I know today, love wins." - Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick)

"Today, our heartstrings pull and they pull very strong." - Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester)

"Members, God made gays, and God made gays capable of loving other people -- including people of the same gender. So who are we to quarrel with God's intentions?" - Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-Minneapolis)

Latz also took a moment to discuss marriage throughout the Bible, citing multiple figures who had multiple wives in his efforts to dispel the notion that the institution has not seen changes throughout history. He and other lawmakers also cited civil rights moments in American history while asking lawmakers to consider the separation of church and state in placing their votes and to learn from past votes.

"For those of you who are struggling with a conflict between your conscience and your politics … let me submit that you are not alone, but in the end, you will have to live with your own conscience at the end of the day," Latz said. "Do not vote out of fear -- of your constituents, or even of your family."

Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville) took a cautionary tone, arguing that he is more concerned about eternity than being "on the right side of history."

"[This] will split towns and the state like nothing else since the Civil War," Hall predicted.

Earlier in the debate, Sen. Jeff Hayden told opponents of same-sex marriage that "it's going to be OK," but Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen was quick to reply with his doubts.

"I'm not so sure everything is going to be OK," Ingebrigtsen said before urging other senators to vote against the measure.

Ingebrigtsen also told the floor he believes the move will force children to ask "too many uncomfortable questions" of their parents.

"No matter the vote today, this is not going away," said Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge). "How we get through this after this is what I'm concerned about."

There are still deep divisions regarding religious protections for those who are spiritually opposed to same-sex marriage, and some argue the bill still doesn't do enough.

"It only covers clergy and the church. It doesn't cover things like religious colleges. It doesn't protect groups like the YMCA or YWCA," said Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove).

However, supporters argue state law already provides such protections.

 

 

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