As thousands of people rallied at Minnesota's state Capitol on Thursday, the Minnesota House passed a historic measure legalizing same-sex marriage, positioning to become the 12th state to stand behind marriage equality after Delaware and Rhode Island passed similar measures this month.
Splitting largely along party lines, the House voted 75-59 to allow same-sex couples to be legally married in the state. The State Senate will take up the legislation on Monday or even as early as Saturday, according to party spokesmen.
Upon passage, the bill will then head to Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who has publicly supported legalizing same-sex marriage in his home state and has been pressing Republican lawmakers for their support.
An amendment offered by Republican Rep. David FitzSimmons offers protection for religious groups, ensuring that churches cannot be fined, punished or stripped of special status for refusing to recognize same-sex marriages.
While Minnesota for Marriage, a group opposed to the bill, held up bright pink signs that read, "Vote no" and prayed outside the state Capitol, supporters of Minnesotans United for All Families wore orange and blue for the vote.
Thursday also marks the first anniversary of President Obama expressing support for same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting president to do so. In an interview with ABC News, Obama said, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Last November, Maine, Maryland and Washington also approved same-sex marriage while voters in Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to place a ban on same-sex marriage. After the failure of the amendment, the issue quickly garnered support with the help of a Democratic majority in the Legislature.
Rhode Island approved same-sex marriage on May 2, and Delaware became the most recent state to approve it on Tuesday. Illinois may be the next state to potentially make same-sex marriage legal after the Illinois Senate approving a gay marriage bill in February, and awaits a final vote in the full House.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Washington, D.C.