NEW INFORMATION: Dayton to sign gay marriage bill Tuesday

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign a bill legalizing gay marriage in a ceremony on the Capitol steps on Tuesday.

The governor's staff announced his plans just moments after the state Senate passed the bill Monday. Dayton will sign the bill at 5 p.m. with legislators and supporters on hand.

Gay couples will be able to get married in Minnesota starting Aug. 1. The state will become the 12th to make gay marriage legal.

The Senate passed the bill 37-30, with just one Republican crossing over to support it. Three Democrats voted against the bill, which passed the House last week.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Senate voted Monday to make gay marriage legal, the last legislative step before Gov. Mark Dayton's promised signature will make the state the 12th in the U.S. to do so.

The Senate vote of 37-30 came four days after the House passed the bill on a 75-59 vote. A cheer erupted in the chamber after the vote was announced, and spectators in a small gallery area stood and applauded.

Minnesota will become the first state in the Midwest to make gay marriage legal via a legislative vote. Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 through a court ruling.

Last week, Dayton, a Democrat, called the bill "one of those society-changing breakthrough moments." Aides said he was likely to sign the legislation in a ceremony Tuesday evening on the front steps of the Capitol in St. Paul.

Under the legislation, gay couples will be able to get married starting on Aug. 1.

It's a rapid turnaround for gay marriage backers, who just six months ago had to organize a massive effort to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. The groups who defeated the amendment quickly turned their attention to legalizing gay marriage, and their efforts were aided by Democrats capturing full control of state government in November.

In the last week and a half, Rhode Island and Delaware became the 10th and 11th states to legalize gay marriage. In Illinois, a gay marriage bill has cleared the state Senate but awaits a House vote.

The House vote last Thursday drew more than a thousand demonstrators representing both sides of the issue. Supporters of gay marriage say they just want same-sex couples to have the same legal protections and societal validation that straight couples get with marriage.

Opponents say gay marriage undermines an important societal building block that benefits children, and also exposes people opposed on moral grounds to charges of bigotry.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Senate has voted to legalize gay marriage, putting the state on the brink of becoming the 12th to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Monday's vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who has promised to sign and could do so Tuesday.

The state Senate voted 37-30 to pass the bill. The bill passed the House last week. It allows same-sex weddings beginning Aug. 1.

With Dayton's signature, Minnesota would be the first Midwestern state where elected representatives voted directly to allow gay marriage. Iowa has had gay marriage since 2009, but that was due to a court ruling.

Just six months ago, Minnesota voters rejected an effort to ban gay marriage in the state constitution.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Senate approves gay marriage bill; governor's signature expected Tuesday .
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Senate has defeated an amendment to the gay marriage bill offered by Republicans that would have beefed up protections for people with religious objections.

The Senate has been debating gay marriage Monday afternoon. It's the bill's last step in the legislative process and is expected to pass. That would mean Gov. Mark Dayton could sign it as soon as Tuesday.

The bill's supporters say its extension of "civil marriage" to both straight and gay couples is sufficient protection for churches that don't want to perform gay marriages. But the Republican amendment would have extended protections to individuals with religious objections to doing business with gay couples.

Gay marriage supporters said that would have gutted existing civil rights protections, and the amendment fell.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota state senators have started their debate on gay marriage as the bill to legalize it here gets close to its last step in the legislative process.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill on Monday, which would send it to the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton. He has promised to sign the bill.

The Capitol is again jammed with demonstrators as the Senate takes up the bill. This time, gay marriage supporters clearly outnumber opponents which is a contrast from last Thursday's House vote, where it was more closely matched.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis, says changing a few words in law will "bring families across Minnesota into the full sunshine of equality and freedom."
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Supporters of gay marriage in Minnesota taped blue and orange hearts Monday onto the state Capitol steps, creating a path into the building for lawmakers preparing an afternoon vote on whether to allow same-sex weddings starting in August.

The Senate was scheduled to open debate at noon on a bill that would make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize gay marriage and the first to pass such a measure out of its Legislature. Iowa allows gay weddings due to a court ruling.

The chamber's majority Democratic leaders have said they expect it to pass. The House passed the bill last Thursday by a 75-59 vote. Assuming a repeat in the Senate, the bill would head to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who has promised to sign it as early as Tuesday.

A festive mood took hold among gay marriage supporters at the Capitol. Hundreds of proponents arrived hours before the vote. A choir sang from the steps, adorned with the hearts cut out of construction paper.

Down the hill in downtown St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman ordered the Wabasha Street Bridge festooned in rainbow gay pride flags to mark the occasion, and temporarily renamed it the "Freedom to Marry Bridge." He also proclaimed this week as "Freedom to Marry Week" in the capital city.

Sen. Scott Dibble, the gay marriage bill's sponsor, ascended the steps to a roar from the crowd. He told them they should be proud to "serve witness to the dream we all hold in our hearts."

"This is your day," he said. "You made this happen."

Dibble was legally married to his partner, Richard Leyva, in California, and they will mark their fifth anniversary on Aug. 17. They said they plan to have an affirming ceremony in Minnesota that day. The bill takes effect on Aug. 1.

Micah Thaun Tran, of Golden Valley, has been with his partner for 13 years and said they're planning a fall wedding in Grand Marais, a small ceremony with friends and family. He was also present for the House vote Thursday and said he couldn't stay away as the final vote was taken.

"Today I just want to be a spectator of history," Tran said. "It is just so validating."

Jeff Moses and his legal husband, John Westerfield-Moses, of Minneapolis, got married in Iowa four years ago and were excited their home state is ready to follow suit. Their anniversary is Aug. 23, a few weeks after the Minnesota marriage law would take effect, and they're considering having a marriage ceremony here, too.

"Any excuse for a party," Jeff Moses said. "It's got to be on the 23rd or I will never remember the date."

John Westerfield-Moses said he knew this day would come.

"It was bound to happen," he said. "It was a train that was coming."

A more solemn display came from gay marriage opponents. Don Lee, of Eagan, placed a tombstone on the front lawn with the words "R.I.P. MARRIAGE 2013" but said he fully expected the bill to pass.

"The legislation being passed today is the end of marriage as we know it in Minnesota," Lee said. "It's a transformation from a forward-looking sacrificial institution to one focused on adult desires. .... People don't realize the damage they are doing. It's a fight against biology."

John Helmberger, head of the main opposition group Minnesotans for Marriage, told those on his side that conventional wisdom about the bill's fate shouldn't be trusted.

"Pray today for God to intervene," he said, addressing a smaller contingent of foes than were in the Capitol days earlier.

Like Thursday, there was a stepped-up security presence. State troopers were posted inside and out, and areas of the building were cordoned off to allow lawmakers to move freely amid the expected throngs.

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