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Minnesota becomes 12th state to embrace same-sex marriage

Minnesota becomes 12th state to embrace same-sex marriage
Last week, gay marriage sponsors Rep. Karen Clark, right, and Sen. Scott Dibble celebrate after the Minnesota House passed the gay marriage bill. The two openly gay Minnesota state lawmakers, who respectively sponsored the measure in the state House and Senate, prepared to watch Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton sign the bill in a ceremony Tuesday. (Jim Mone / Associated Press)

Crowds cheered on Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday evening after he signed a bill making Minnesota the 12th state in the nation, and the third in three weeks, to allow same-sex marriage.

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness certainly includes the right to marry the person you love," Dayton said before signing the bill at the steps of the state Capitol in St. Paul.

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The move came after the Democrat-controlled Senate passed the legislation on a 37-30 vote. Before the vote, same-sex marriage opponents protested at the Capitol. A paper tombstone on the Capitol lawn read, "RIP MARRIAGE, 2013."

Two years earlier, the Legislature put a referendum on the ballot that would have banned same-sex marriage. Minnesotans voted down the proposal in November.

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Gay marriage will become legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1. However, churches are not required to perform the unions.

Minnesota is just the latest in a string of states to allow gay marriage. Delaware became the 11th state to approve such unions last week -- and Rhode Island took similar action a week before that.

Washington, Maryland and Maine voters approved same-sex marriage in November. The District of Columbia and the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York also allow gay marriage.

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