The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill on a five-to-three vote, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. It now heads to the Senate floor, where a final vote is not expected until much later in the session.
Sen. Scott Dibble, an openly gay Democrat from Minneapolis, said he’s “reasonably confident” his bill can pass the full Senate.
The Seante committee action followed hours of testimony from pastors, business executives, parents, children, gay couples and others.
It was the first time a Minnesota state legislative committee has backed marriage rights for gay couples.
The House Civil Law Committee was expected to vote on the companion bill later Tuesday night. The Associated Press polled members of the commit tee last week and found the measure was sure to pass.
Backers were moving to capitalize on the November defeat of a ballot measure amendment that would have written a traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman into the constitution. They also saw hope in a state government entirely in Democratic hands for the first time in two decades.
Before voting against the bill, Sen. Dan Hall said that marriage in itself doesn’t make anyone more or less valuable. He, like many other opponents of the bill, said the definition of marriage should be left up to God.
Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign it if it reaches him.
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