News Column

Gay Marriage Bill Set for Thursday Vote in Minn. House

May 7, 2013

A bill that would legalize gay marriage will get a vote on the Minnesota House floor Thursday, May 9, signaling supporters have the votes to pass the legislation.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has said he wouldn't schedule a floor vote on the bill until he knew he had the 68 votes to pass the bill. On Tuesday, Thissen said he believes the Democratic majority has the votes to get it done, even if no Republicans vote for it. So far, no GOP House members have said publicly they would vote in favor.

"We're still having conversations, but I think we have the votes," Thissen said. "This hasn't been something we've been twisting peoples' arms on. It's about talking to people, hearing from constituents and those undecided

legislators ultimately listening to their hearts."

In the Senate, leaders say they also have the votes to pass the bill. They scheduled a last-minute hearing in the Senate Finance Committee for Tuesday morning to review the fiscal impacts.

Richard Carlbom, executive director of Minnesotans United for All Families, said there has been a dramatic shift in attitude toward gay marriage in the last decade because people understand that marriage, regardless of who you are, is about the commitment two people share. And they don't want to stand in the way any longer, he added.

"More and more people realize that same-sex couples marry for the same reasons as anyone else," Carlbom said. "They want to marry the person they love."

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage intensified their lobbying efforts this week, putting more pressure on lawmakers who have not publicly revealed how they will vote.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor legislators control the House and Senate. But there are 17 nonmetro DFLers seen as swing votes because their party favors legalizing gay marriage but they represent districts that supported last fall's unsuccessful effort to amend the state constitution to limit marriages to heterosexual couples.

House leaders would need at least 12 of those DFLers to vote "yes" to pass the bill if there is no Republican support. And so far, none of the 22 GOP House members who live in districts that rejected the amendment last fall have said they would vote in favor of the gay marriage bill.

"No one has committed to us that they're going to vote yes for it," Carlbom said. "We're still having conversations and trying."

Seven DFLers from those swing districts have told the Pioneer Press they will vote "yes" on the bill and two are "no" votes. The others wouldn't commit or comment.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign the bill into law if it passes. That would make Minnesota the 11th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/MeganBoldt and facebook.com/PioneerPressPolitics.

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(c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

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Source: Copyright Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN) 2013


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