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Minnesota appears likely to become 12th marriage equality state

Marriage equality

By Jacob CombsMinnesota state seal

After yesterday’s passage of a marriage equality bill in the Delaware Senate–which Gov. Jack Markell signed into law less than an hour later–Minnesota looks to be the likely 12th state to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, possibly by next week.

The Minnesota House has scheduled a floor debate and vote on equal marriage legislation for tomorrow, just a few days after a House committee gave approval to the bill following the release of a fiscal note that necessitated further committee consideration.  Yesterday, a Senate committee advanced the bill, setting it up for a floor vote, which could come Saturday, according to the AP.

House Speaker Paul Thissen has said before that he would not schedule a floor vote until he had secured more than the 68 votes required to pass the bill.  Democrats (known in Minnesota as members of the Democratic Farmer Labor party, or DFLers) hold 73 seats in the Minnesota House.  If the House approves the legislation, it will go on to the Democrat-controlled Senate–which is seen as more favorable to the bill–and then to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who supports the bill.

Marriage equality supporters in Minnesota have pursued a dramatically speedy course to final legislation after voters rejected–for only the second time in U.S. history–a constitutional amendment last November that would have banned equal marriage rights in the state.  Minnesota already prohibited marriage equality by statute, but the Minnesota’s Amendment 1 would have amended the state constitution to read, “only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”  The measure was defeated by a 53-47 percent margin.

Only one Republican legislator, Sen. Branden Petersen, has publicly backed the bill, leaving LGBT advocates looking for yes votes from the 17 Democrats who represent the state’s rural areas beyond the Twin Cities.  Many of these lawmakers represent more socially conservative districts whose voters supported last year’s constitutional amendment.  One such legislator, Rep. Shannon Savick, has announced her support of the bill, although she acknowledges her position comes with risks.  “It could cost me the election,” she told the AP.

According to the Pioneer Pressseven of these swing vote representatives have said they will vote for the bill, while two have said they will vote against it.  Two others, Res. Jeanne Poppe and David Dill, have said they are leaning towards supporting it, although Dill may miss tomorrow’s vote for medical reasons.

As Minnesota debates its equal marriage bill, The Advocate yesterday released the results of its marriage equality census, which it based off of 2012 census data as well as a 2012 Gallup poll conducted with UCLA’s Williams Institute that determined the number of self-identifiying LGBT people in each state.  From these data, The Advocate estimates that 1,975,050 LGBT Americans now have access to equal marriage rights after yesterday’s vote and bill signing in Delaware.  (H/t to Sagesse for pointing this out in the comments.)

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