ST. PAUL, Minn. - 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.
A more solemn display was put forth by gay marriage opponents. One man placed a tombstone on the front lawn with the words "R.I.P. MARRIAGE 2013."
But that man, computer consultant Don Lee, of Eagan, said he fully expected the bill to pass.
So does bill co-sponsor Senator Scott Dibble. "I don't want to jinx it, of course, or say we have it in the bag, you have to respect the legislative process and the debate," Dibble told KARE 11's Bryan Piatt, "but we have a pretty strong indication that we have the majority of the votes in the Senate that have indicated they are going to vote yes."
If the bill does get pushed through it heads to Gov. Mark Dayton, who has said he will sign it as soon as Tuesday.
State Senator Paul Gazelka is among those expected to vote against the measure Monday. "I think if we flip marriage upside down, we're basically flipping families upside down," Gazelka said on KARE 11 Sunrise, "I think it really does matter for kids to have a mom and a dad and to have a model of marriage that really, really encourages that."
The Senate began to debate the bill Monday at noon for a debate and vote. The chamber's DFL leaders have said they expect it to pass. If it does, the bill goes to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton who has promised to sign it.
The bill would make same-sex marriage available starting Aug. 1. Minnesota would become the 12th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.
The House passed the bill last Thursday by a 75-59 vote.
Minnesota would be the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage out of its Legislature. Iowa allows it due to a court ruling.
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