House gay marriage vote set for Thursday

By Don Davis

Minnesota House leaders expect representatives to approve gay marriage Thursday, with the Senate following in the next few days.

The vote being scheduled for Thursday means House Democratic leaders think they have the vote to pass the measure. House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has said for months that he will not bring the measure up for a full House vote unless he knows there votes are there.

Even with bill supporters expressing confidence it will pass, they are keeping up their campaign.

“We are so close to achieving the dream of thousands of same-sex couples to legally marry the person they love, to protect their families and to take responsibility for each other,” Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom of Minnesotans United said. “We can’t stop now, because we aren’t there yet.”

In an email to supporters, Carlbom asked for continued donations even as the historic vote is two days away.

The House vote will come six months and three days after Minnesotans defeated an attempt to write into the state Constitution a ban on gay marriage, the first major defeat in the country for the anti-gay marriage campaign.

Speculation around the Capitol is that the Senate will vote on the bill Saturday. Leaders there say they have votes to pass it.

Carlbom is not taking the votes for granted.

“In these final moments, we have to connect legislators at the Capitol with their constituents and show them how much support they’ll have when they vote yes…” he told supporters. “We can’t let thousands of families in our state go another day without the freedom to marry. Thank you for your continued support.”

Gay marriage opponents say they remain confident.

Executive Director Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, an anti-gay marriage leader, said: “Right now, we believe the votes are not there to pass.”

If rural Democratic lawmakers vote in favor of the bill, he said, they will go against their districts’ views on the issue and face of the possibility of losing the next election.

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