Minnesota is poised to become the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage as the state Senate approved legislation Monday, flooding the Capitol building with cheers from supporters.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton announced that he would sign the bill Tuesday afternoon. Once he does, Minnesota will be the first Midwestern state to legalize the practice by legislative vote. (Iowa's Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.)
With same-sex marriage supporters watching, the Democratically controlled Senate passed the bill, 37 to 30 -- capping a dramatic reversal from 2011, when the Legislature put a referendum on the ballot that would have amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Voters defeated that measure last November, paving the way for the current bill. It allows same-sex civil marriages between couples but does not obligate churches to perform the practice.
The bill passed the state's House last week by a 75 to 59 vote.
Three Democratic senators voted against the bill and one Republican voted for it.
"Love wins!" state Sen. Roger Reinert, a Democrat, tweeted after passage.
A "Love Is Law" celebration was planned for St. Paul on Tuesday after Dayton's signing of the bill, which was set for 5 p.m. The event was to include live music and a procession from the Capitol lawn to the city's downtown.
Even before the Senate vote, city workers were placing gay-pride flags along the Wabasha Street bridge, which Mayor Chris Coleman temporarily renamed the "Freedom to Marry" bridge in a Monday proclamation.
Senate debate lasted several hours.
"With just a few words, we have the ability to bring loving families across the entire state of Minnesota into the full sunshine of equality and freedom that they've been denied for so long," State Sen. Scott Dibble, a member of the state's Democratic Farmer Labor Party and an author of the bill, said during debate. "In so doing, [we] help them become stronger, affirm the values we all share and strengthen our democracy."
Same-sex marriage opponents demonstrated at the Capitol before the vote. A paper tombstone on the Capitol lawn read, "RIP MARRIAGE, 2013."
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