Both houses of the state of Minnesota’s legislature voted on Tuesday (12 March) to proceed with a bill to legalize gay marriage.
The House Civil Law Committee voted 10-7 along party lines to pass the bill and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 earlier on in the evening.
The bill is now headed for a full Senate vote, but that is not expected until much later in the session.
The House hearing was filled with memorable moments including when State Rep. Glenn Gruenhage introduced an ‘ex-gay’ friend of his named Kevin Petersen.
He said Petersen ‘was active in the gay lifestyle for about 10 years’ before leaving it to marry a woman with whom he now has three children.
Gruenhage had previously referred to homosexuality as ‘an unhealthy sexual addiction.’
In contrast, former Minnesota lawmaker Lynne Osterman appeared at the hearing to tell the panel how much she regretted supporting anti-gay marriage legislation in the 90s.
‘I blew my vote,’ she said in a trembling voice.
‘In my only term as a member, I cast a politically expedient vote in favor of DOMA and I regretted that ever since.’
The proposed legislation to make same-sex marriage legal come in a state that made history just last November when Minnesota became the first US state to defeat an anti-gay marriage ballot measure.
Although there are still several steps to go in the process, Minnesotans United Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom said the Senate panel vote alone made it ‘a historic day.’
‘The passage of this comprehensive legislation today signals a turning point in our state’s history,’ Carlbom stated. ‘It is time to extend the freedom to marry to the thousands of loving and committed same-sex couples who ask for nothing more than to be treated fairly and equally by their government.’