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Gay marriage approved at the Capitol, heads to Governor

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The Minnesota Senate voted 37-30 to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Senators approved the legislation three days after the House did the same and Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the legislation into law Tuesday.

"We are redefining nothing," bill sponsor Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said as debate wrapped up Monday. "We are reaffirming the thing we cherish and value most."

Gay rights advocates who had gathered at the Capitol wept with joy after the vote, Forum News Service reports.

Critics of the bill bemoaned the outcome of the vote. Burnsville Republican Dan Hall said legalizing same-sex marriage will divide the state like nothing else since the Civil War. As the Pioneer Press reports, Hall says he's less interested in being on the right side of history "than being on the right side of eternity."

MPR was following the debate action with a live blog.

Republicans Branden Petersen voted with the DFL majority in favor of the bill. Three DFLers voted against it.

Hundreds of bill proponents arrived Monday morning, hours before the Senate vote, the Associated Press reported. They lined the Capitol steps with cut-out hearts to create a path to the building for lawmakers. MPR has a slideshow from the scene.

Much as they did during Thursday's House vote, demonstrators for and against the bill stood side by side in the Capitol hallways, ECM Publishers reports.

Fox 9 reported, though, that Monday's demonstrations were more subdued than those of last week, adding that for supporters the afternoon had the feel of a celebration-in-waiting.

As in the House, many members said they were voting their conscience, which may not always align with the wishes of their constituents. MPR looked at one such case. Republican Sen. David Hann voted against the bill, even though fewer than 40 percent of his constituents backed last fall's Constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage.

On Monday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed May 13 to 17 “Freedom to Marry Week” in the city, MinnPost noted, and symbolic rainbow flags were put atop the Wabasha Street Bridge, which has been temporarily named the “Freedom to Marry Bridge,” the city said.

After more than three hours of debate on Thursday, Minnesota House members voted 75-59 to let gay couples marry.

The Associated Press says the legislation includes language to protect religious institutions and groups from being forced to perform or recognize marriages between same-sex couples.

With Gov. Dayton's signature, Minnesota will become the 12th state in the country to allow same-sex marriage, starting Aug. 1.

This comes just six months after Minnesota voters rejected an amendment to the state constitutional that would have essentially banned gay marriage in the state.

The Pioneer Press has a new interactive history of Minnesota marriage laws that goes back to 1905.

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