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BREAKING: Minnesota Senate passes marriage equality to become #12

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UPDATE: Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill at 6:00 Central Time on Mary 14 on the Capitol Lawn.

The Minnesota Senate passed marriage equality today! By a margin of 37-30, the senate approved the measure, which was approved by the house on Friday. It will now go to Governor Dayton, who has pledged to sign it.

Excitement for marriage equality has been building since the Minnesota House passed the marriage equality bill on Friday. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman declared that for this week, the Wabasha Bridge will be renamed the "Freedom to Marry Bridge". Photographers snapped photos of a construction crew adorning the bridge with rainbow flags. The Freedom to Marry Bridge spans the Mississippi river, leading to the State Capitol. 

Supporters of marriage equality lined the capitol steps this morning to greet senators, encouraging a "yes" vote. A highlight was when openly gay state senator, Scott Dibble arrived with his partner, Richard Leyva. 

Inside the chamber, debate lasted for over four hours, with several senators speaking in support.

"I am standing here for people...around the country and around the world. These conversations we're having here are not an isolated conversation," said Senator Terri Bonoff, co-author of the bill. "I stand here with a strong commitment to love, family, and what the power of love and family and marriage brings."

"This legislation will finally change... and give [LGBT people] the same recognition that my wife and I have and most of the people in this room have. Nothing more. Nothing less," said Senator John Marty. "These families pay taxes, participation in their communities, go to church, active in the PTA. These families deserve the same rights that we do. There've been a lot of people in the building today who've been fighting for these for several decades and it's happening. It's a beautiful day."

Amendments to expand religious freedom language in the bill failed 26-41. Also defeated was a bill to only use gender-specific language when referring to straight weddings.

"I am proud to be a Minnesotan today. Today we have the power, the awesome, humbling power, to make dreams come true. What do we dream of? As kids growing up, what do we all dream of? A good life. A happy home. Falling in love with someone. Sharing that life, a loving family. Marriage says family like nothing else." stated openly gay Senator Scott Dibble. "I promise you. Nothing will change. We are redefining nothing. We are joining in the thing we all cherish and prize and value the most. Except that for thousands of families, life will be better; that will change. We will be treating people fairly and removing the barriers to the full joys life has to offer."

"Many people may ask why a Catholic, immigrant woman feels so strong about this and why it is I have been so vocal about this campaign and why i stand in strong support," said Senator Patricia Torres Ray. "My commitment to work on their behalf here and on behalf of all issues that i consider to be fair and just. I hope I get invited to their wedding now. I hope I'm able to celebrate their relationship, see their children having children, and continue on this journey of loving our kids, loving our partners together." Torres Ray ended her speech in Spanish, which she has never spoken on the Senate floor before, in order to address her family, friends and constituents. 

Once Governor Dayton signs the bill, which he has pledged to do, Minnesota will become the 12th state to grant marriage equality, closely following Delaware last week, and Rhode Island the week before. Minnesota defeated an anti-gay constitutional amendment on Election Day in November. This historic move makes Minnesota the first state to defeat an anti-gay constitutional amendment and followed by passing marriage equality. 

"The fact that Minnesotans can successfully defeat an anti-gay constitutional amendment in November, only to turn that energy into passing marriage equality in such a short time is nothing short of inspiring," stated Wilson Cruz, National Spokesperson for GLAAD. "The national tide has turned in favor of marriage equality, and more Americans than ever before believe that every person should be able to marry the person they love."

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