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GOP lawmaker switching sides in gay marriage debate

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After supporting a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in Minnesota, Republican state Sen. Branden Petersen says he will support a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, the Star Tribune reports.

“It’s only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal,” Petersen told the newspaper. He tweeted this Tuesday night:

Petersen says his support is conditional on several issues. He wants religious leaders to have the freedom to choose to not perform gay wedding ceremonies, and he says children in same-sex marriages should have the same financial guarantees as any other children in divorce cases.

Securing the support of a Republican would be a political coup for same-sex marriage advocates as they prepare legislation, the Star Tribune notes.

Advocates and opponents of legalizing gay marriage are trying to count votes on the issue in the DFL-controlled Legislature. The issue largely breaks down along party lines, with Democrats supporting gay marriage and Republicans opposed.

But there are at least a few DFL lawmakers who plan to break with the majority and vote against legalizing same-sex marriage, the Star Tribune reports.

So gay marriage supporters are trying to line up GOP votes.

“Republican support is something we want to make sure we have,” said Jake Loesch, a Republican and spokesman for Minnesotans United for All Families, the lead group trying to legalize same-sex marriage, the Star Tribune reports. “Republicans are weighing this issue ... As this conversation continues in the Legislature, there will be Republicans who will vote for marriage.”

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