With Vote, Minnesota Is 12th State to Allow Gay Marriage

Activists on both sides gathered at the Minnesota Capitol last week as the House passed a bill to allow gay marriage, which cleared the Senate Monday. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Glen Stubbe)

Minnesota became the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage by legislative vote Monday. The state legislature's approval made it the 12th state to legalize the unions and the third to do so this month.

The measure cleared both chambers with bipartisan support. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, campaigned for the same-sex marriage bill and has said he'll sign the measure, perhaps as soon as Tuesday.

The Minnesota vote illustrates the fast-changing politics of gay marriage, as more states move to allow the unions and polls show a significant shift toward supporting same-sex marriage nationwide. The final vote there Monday came almost two years to the day after the then-GOP-led legislature voted to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before voters.

Last November, that referendum failed — the first lasting defeat for such a measure in any state — and advocates quickly transitioned from that effort to lobbying lawmakers at the capitol.

Twelve states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages, including Rhode Island and Delaware, which approved their own measures this month. Colorado lawmakers this year also approved a civil union bill.

Iowa, the other Midwestern state to allow same-sex marriage, does so because of a state Supreme Court ruling.

Illinois could soon allow gay marriage as well. The state already allows civil unions and a measure passed the state Senate in February, but has stalled in the House. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, called on lawmakers last week to approve the measure.

Thirty-three states now don't allow gay marriage by either state law or constitutional amendment.

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