May 14, 2013

Minnesota governor signs gay marriage bill; 12th state to approve

Cheering spectators filled the south lawn of the state Capitol, with American and rainbow flags fluttering in a sweltering breeze.

The Associated Press

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An estimated 6,000 people gathered at the State Capitol where Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the gay marriage bill, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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Mark Winiecki of Forest Lake, Minn., displays his opposition to Monday's passage of the gay marriage bill on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton will sign the bill, passed largely by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) controlled Legislature, in front of the Capitol early Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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"I pulled him from street politics," she said. Dibble was elected to the House in 2000, and in 2002 to the state Senate. He holds the southwest Minneapolis seat once occupied by the late Allan Spear, who in 1974 became one of the very first U.S. elected officials to come out of the closet.

While Dibble's district includes many of the city's trendiest neighborhoods, Clark's just to the east is marked by public housing towers and large populations of new immigrants.

"She is a huge, huge voice for the poor and the disenfranchised and the dispossessed," Dibble said. But she continued through her career to make a mark for gay rights: During former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2006 State of the State speech, Clark stood up on the House floor and turned her back to the governor as he endorsed a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Not long after that, the first stirrings of legal same sex marriage started to surface around the country. In 2008, Dibble and his husband, Richard Levya, were married in California, where Levya is still a part-time resident. While a judge later struck down gay marriage in that state, marriages that already occurred were not nullified.

Dibble said they won't remarry in Minnesota, but will have an affirming ceremony.

But Clark and Jacquelyn Zita, her partner of 24 years, plan to make it official in Minnesota. They haven't picked a date, but Clark envisioned a wedding on the farm they own north of Minneapolis.

"It will be small, probably just friends and family," Clark said. "We're actually very private people."

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Additional Photos

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Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, left, sponsor of the gay marriage bill in the Minnesota Senate, and his partner Richard Leyva greet a large, joyous crowd as the arrive at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, May 13, 2013. The Minnesota Senate is scheduled open debate at noon on a bill that would make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize gay marriage and the first to pass such a measure out of its Legislature. The chamber's majority Democratic leaders have said they expect it to pass and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has promised to sign it. (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Ben Garvin) MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE OUT

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In this May 9, 2013 file photo, gay marriage sponsors Rep. Karen Clark, right, and Sen. Scott Dibble celebrate after the Minnesota House passed the gay marriage bill in St. Paul, Minn. The two openly gay Minnesota state lawmakers, who respectively sponsored the measure in the state House and Senate, prepared to watch Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton sign the bill in a ceremony Tuesday, May 14, 2013, on the front steps of Minnesota’s Capitol. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signs the gay marriage bill in front of the State Capitol Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. Looking over Dayton's shoulder are bill sponsors, Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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