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Same-sex marriage legal at midnight: Estimated 5,000 gay couples to wed in 1st year

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After years of heated statewide discussion, high-profile political battles, an emotional debate in the Legislature and a lot of wedding ceremony planning, same-sex marriage becomes legal in Minnesota at midnight.

Minnesota estimates about 5,000 gay couples will marry during the law’s first year, although state officials didn’t calculate how many were already married somewhere else, the Associated Press noted. The law change has some same-sex Minnesota couples who got married in other states wondering whether they should get married again in their home state, the AP reports.

Same-sex marriage will also be legal in Rhode Island beginning Aug. 1, making that state and Minnesota the 12th and 13 in the nation to recognize gay marriage. At that point, about 30 percent of the U.S. population will live in states with such laws, according to the gay rights group Freedom to Marry.

Many are not celebrating Minnesota's new law – in fact, many outside the state's urban center are still shocked by the whole idea, NPR reports. NPR quotes Owatonna teacher Dean Walters: "Away from the cities, you're going to see a lot of legislators voted out. People in rural areas are unhappy."

Opponents of same-sex marriage in the state say they are more sad than bitter, noting that the law signals a deteriorating society, the Star Tribune reports.

WCCO reports that 13,718 same-sex couples reported living in Minnesota in 2010, a 50 percent jump in just 10 years, according to government data. WCCO examines how Minnesota ranks compared to other states in its gay population (2.9 percent of Minnesota’s 5.3 million people call themselves gay, below the national average of 3.5 percent).

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