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Updated: Marriage equality bills face final vote in Delaware, clear new hurdle in Minnesota

Marriage equality

By Jacob CombsMinnesota state seal

The Delaware Senate will today hold a final vote on HB75, a proposed marriage equality bill that would then go to Gov. Jack Markell, an equal marriage supporter, for his signature.

HB75 was approved exactly two weeks ago by the Delaware House in a 23-18 vote after a successful committee vote less than a week earlier.

The Senate Executive Committee advanced the legislation on a party line 4-2 vote last Wednesday, setting up today’s consideration in the 21-member Senate.  Nine Democratic Senators have either co-sponsored or publicly stated they will support the legislation, while seven Senators (all but one of them Republicans) have announced they will oppose it.

Marriage equality advocates need at least two more votes for the bill to make its way to Gov. Markell’s desk.  One Republican Senator, Catherine Cloutier, remains undecided, as do four Democrats.  Two of the four Democrats, Sens. Robert Marshall and Bethany Hall-Long, voted in favor of Delaware’s civil unions law in 2011.  The other two, Sens. Bruce Ennis and Robert Venables, voted no and are expected to oppose the marriage equality bill.

HB75 is currently the only item of business on the Senate’s agenda for today’s session, which should begin at 2:00 p.m.  An audio feed will be available on the Delaware General Assembly’s website when the Senate convenes.

In other legislative news, the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee last night decided to advance a marriage equality bill on a divided voice vote in a quick 10-minute meeting.  As I reported yesterday morning, the committee vote was necessitated even though a previous committee had approved the bill by the release of a new fiscal report on the legislation saying that it would cost the state money.  An additional Senate committee will consider the bill in a vote expected later today.

There are two weeks left in Minnesota’s legislative session.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m. Eastern): Thanks to Seth from Maryland in the comments for pointing out this AP article reporting that the Minnesota House has scheduled a floor debate and vote on marriage equality for Thursday.  House Speaker Paul Thissen has said before that he would not schedule a floor vote until more than the 68 votes required to pass the bill had been secured.  If the House approves the legislation, it will go on to the Senate–which is seen as more favorable to the bill–pending today’s committee vote.

UPDATE 2 (2:00 p.m. Eastern): Minnesota’s marriage equality bill has also been approved by the Senate Executive Committee on a voice vote, setting it up for a full floor vote in the chamber.

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