State Sen. seen as swing vote says he'll back gay marriage

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A state Senator whom many consider a key swing vote on the gay marriage issue says he'll vote to legalize it in Minnesota.

Sen. Kent Eken tells the Associated Press that even opponents of same sex marriage in his northwestern Minnesota district are beginning to see its legality as inevitable.

Eken lives in Norman County and represents a district that includes Moorhead. The AP reports 53 percent of the district's voters last fall backed a Constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. That amendment was defeated statewide.

But Eken says overall his constituents are more concerned about schools, roads, and nursing homes than about whether gay marriage is legal.

Eken is a freshman in the Senate but served five terms in the House before last year's redistricting. In a profile of freshmen Senators last year, Politics in Minnesota noted that he lives in the home his grandparents built when they immigrated from Norway. Eken has a wife and four children.

A legislative vote on a gay marriage bill has not been scheduled but is expected soon. Last week supporters of the measure rallied in the sleet in front of the Capitol.

Minnesota for Marriage, a group leading the campaign against the bill, is holding rallies around the state, including one in Eden Prairie on Saturday.

Also Tuesday, the French Parliament made that country the third in two weeks to extend legal recognition to same sex couples.

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