As reported by USA Today, Minnesota will become the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize gay marriage after Governor Mark Dayton signs the bill into law in the coming days. The state Senate voted 37–30 in favor of gay marriage legalization, and the House passed the bill with a 75–59 vote. The legislation will allow gay couples to marry beginning August 1.
Dayton remarked that the bill was “one of those society-changing breakthrough moments.”
In the last two weeks, Rhode Island and Delaware became the 10th and 11th states to legalize gay marriage. In Illinois, a gay marriage bill has cleared the state Senate but awaits a House vote. At this point approximately 18 percent of the country has the option to marry regardless of gender.
ABC News explained that the bill passed in the Minnesota Senate is different from other states because it specified that it pertains to “civil marriage,” whether in same-sex or traditional marriages.
“This is done to emphasize that our laws and our statutes only pertain to the legal aspects of marriage, maintain that distinction so we can look to the law and know that it does not intrude on religious beliefs and practice,” state Senator Scott Dibble said on the Senate floor Monday. “It simply affirms what was already true and has always been true, that the laws that pertain to marriage are laws that only deal with civil matters and don’t reach into private firmly held religious beliefs or practice.”