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Minn. Senate Schedules Vote on Gay Marriage Bill

Wednesday May 8, 2013

With the a vote planned in the House, the Minnesota State Senate has announced that it will vote on a gay marriage bill on Monday if the House passes the bill.

The House bill moved through a pair of committees this week. It will be voted by the House on Thursday.

The head of the group lobbying for gay marriage at Minnesota's Capitol says he supports changes to the bill that could make it easier for Republicans to support.

An amendment posted Wednesday from GOP Rep. David Fitzsimmons reframes the wording in Minnesota's marriage law. It would use the term "civil marriage" in all instances, whether couples are of the same or opposite genders.

"Rep. FitzSimmons' amendment affirms the fact that Minnesotans want same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry in our state while also ensuring that clergy members and religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs free from government intrusion," Minnesota United said in news release.

Under the amendment, there would be a guarantee that religious organizations couldn't be fined, punished or stripped of special status for refusing to perform gay marriages. A religious protection clause had been in the bill, but some Republicans thought it wasn't strong enough.

Minnesotans United head Richard Carlbom calls the amendment a compromise, and says he will urge marriage backers in the House and Senate to support it.

The national momentum on gay marriage has been limited mostly to the East and West coasts, but with Minnesota's vote looming that could change.

Delaware became the 11th state to approve gay marriage earlier this week, joining states like New York, Rhode Island and Washington. But Iowa has been the only state in flyover land with gay marriage, and that came due to judicial action.

In Illinois, a bill has passed the Senate, but supporters are still working to get enough votes in the House.

Minnesota's push comes after supporters mobilized last fall to block a constitutional ban. It's also become possible as Democrats took full power of state government.

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