May 13, 2013

Vote clears way for Minnesota to approve gay marriage

It will become the 12th state across the country to do so, and the first state in the Midwest.

The Associated Press

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A gay marriage supporter waves the U.S. flag and a rainbow flag as supporters and opponents of Minnesota's gay marriage bill gather in the State Capitol rotunda in St. Paul on Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

The Associated Press

Like Thursday, there was a stepped-up security presence. State troopers were posted inside and out, and areas of the building were cordoned off to allow lawmakers to move freely amid the expected throngs.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman ordered the Wabasha Street Bridge near downtown festooned in rainbow-striped gay pride flags, and temporarily renamed it the "Freedom to Marry Bridge." He also proclaimed it "Freedom to Marry Week."

Minnesota's most famous opponent of gay marriage also weighed in. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, an ardent supporter of banning gay marriage when she served in the state Senate, released a statement expressing disappointment in a vote she said "denies religious liberty to people who believe in traditional marriage."

But gay couples were already thinking about wedding planning. Jeff Moses and his legal husband, John Westerfield-Moses, of Minneapolis, were married in Iowa four years ago, when the state's Supreme Court ruled to allow it.

Their anniversary is Aug. 23, a few weeks after a Minnesota law would take effect, and the couple is considering having a marriage ceremony here, too.

"Any excuse for a party," Jeff Moses said.

"It was bound to happen," John Westerfield-Moses added. "It was a train that was coming."

Jessica Flatequal and Maria Bevacqua, a lesbian couple from Mankato who have been together for a decade, were jubilant after the vote, as supporters spilled out of the front of the Capitol.

"We're excited to become equal citizens under the law," said Bevacqua, a professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Asked whether they would get married, both women laughed.

"Well, neither of us proposed today," Flatequal said. "But now that's going to be part of the discussion. It's weird, actually.

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