Come August 1, same-sex couples will be able to get legally married in Minnesota.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Tuesday to make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriages.
The bill legalizes civil marriages between two persons and provides exemptions based on religious association.
After hours of debate in both the House and Senate, the bill got to Dayton, who signed it in front of a packed crowd on the Capitol steps in the sweltering Tuesday evening heat.
“I'm 60 years old and I never thought I'd live to see this,” said Linda Lindsay, a volunteer with Minnesotans United For All Families, the main organization supporting the push.
The historic measure marks a rapid shift in public opinion regarding same-sex marriage.
Two years ago, the Republican-led Legislature put last fall's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota on the ballot.
Minnesotans, however, voted the amendment down and put DFLers in control of both the House and Senate.
“Times change, perceptions of what's acceptable in society change,” said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, in an address to the Senate floor on Monday. “This is indeed the civil rights issue of our generation.”
The Senate bill's author, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, gave his support for the bill in personal terms and talked about his husband, Richard Levya.
“Here in Minnesota, [Levya] and I are legal strangers,” Dibble said. “How can that be okay?”
But the measure didn't pass without some controversy.
Monday, many voiced moral concerns with the law, which would also make it so clergy members can refuse to recognize a civil marriage for any reason.
“I think it's a sad day for Minnesota,” said Linda Sevlie, who rallied against the bill, “a tragic day.”
Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, said he will be called a “bigot” or a “hater” for voting against the bill, but stood by his decision.
“There are things in life that are worth standing up for, even being persecuted for,” he said to the Senate. “May god help us.”
Some senators said there isn't a consensus supporting same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Last fall's amendment failed with 52.5 percent of Minnesotans voting it down. The measure passed with far stronger support in the metro area than in many greater Minnesota cities.
“I'm sorry that we don't have room for people of faith in our statue books anymore,” said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
Others disagreed, including Dibble, who said the bill isn't as “earth-shattering as people might think.”
“We are redefining nothing,” Dibble said. “There's no limit to love; it's not going to be used up — it only expands.”
In the Senate, one lone Republican, Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, voted in favor of the bill. During debate, he said he's never felt more uncertain about his future in office, but stood by his vote.
“I'm absolutely certain that I'm standing on the side of individual liberty.”