MN Gay-Marriage Bills Face Tight Vote In House And Senate

marriage minnesotaBills legalizing same-sex marriage have cleared committee in the Minnesota Legislature, and now await full floor votes in the both the House and Senate.

“I’m overjoyed, and I’m very hopeful that we’ll finish the work that we started here,” said Rep. Karen Clark, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party representing Minneapolis. “Committed same-sex couples should be treated fairly under the law.”

Clark, who is a lesbian, sponsored the marriage-equality measure that cleared the House Civil Law Committee by a vote of 10-7 last week, along party lines.

Earlier the same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 in favor of their version.

Passage requires 68 votes in the House and 34 in the Senate, and the DFL controls the Minnesota Legislature 73-61 in the House and 39-28 in the Senate.

Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), who sponsored the Senate bill, said it’s “in really good shape”—an opinion not shared by Autumn Leva of the anti-equality group Minnesota for Marriage. “I think both sides are kind of counting noses on this, and I think it’s kind of a wait-and-see at this point,” she explained.

A Star Tribune poll earlier this month indicated 53% of Minnesotans oppose gay marriage, while just 38% support it, with a 3.5% margin of error. A January poll by Public Policy Polling told a different story—with 47% backing same-sex nuptials and 45% against them, with a 3% margin of error.

In November, Minnesotans rejected a ban on same-sex marriage, the first time such a measure failed at the voting booth.

A floor vote isn’t expected until later in the session, after the state budget has been resolved.  Gov. Mark Dayton, also member of the DFL party, says he’d be happy to sign a marriage-equality measure into law.