News (USA)

DFL swing vote on Minn. same-sex marriage says he’ll support bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota state senator seen as a crucial swing vote on a proposed same-sex marriage bill said Monday he’ll vote in favor of the measure.

Kent Eken

Sen. Kent Eken, a Democrat (DLF Party), represents a northwestern Minnesota district that backed last fall’s gay marriage ban by 53 percent, but said that he’s heard from many constituents who passionately support gay marriage.

And, he said, even many opponents told him they think it’s inevitable.

Eken, from the town of Twin Valley, represents a district that includes the city of Moorhead and small rural communities near the North Dakota border. He said his constituents are more concerned about schools, roads and bridges, and nursing homes and hospitals than they are worried about legal gay marriage.

Last week, hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters swarmed the Capitol in hopes of winning over reluctant lawmakers for a lobby day sponsored by groups funding the gay marriage push.

And earlier this month, proponents released a letter from 26 prominent business leaders to Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders urging them to pass the bill this year.

Dayton has said he would sign the bill if the House and Senate pass it.

Under the current proposal, same-sex marriage in Minnesota would be legal on Aug. 1.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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