With ringing chants, waving signs and prayful gatherings, Minnesotans prepared the Capitol for the coming marriage vote Thursday.
Outside the House chamber, where the 134 members are expected to take the first step to legalize same-sex marriage, hundreds of coordinated advocates made their wishes clear.
"Yes," said Minnesotans who cheered incoming lawmakers they believe they can count on to approve the measure. Rep. Deb Hilstom, DFL-Brooklyn Center and a clear "yes" vote, said the crowds energized lawmakers preparing to take a historic vote.
"No," cried Minnesotans begging lawmakers to reject the legalization bill. An elderly man, here to oppose the gay marriage bill, quietly read his bible a few feet from the demonstrators, and a huddle of opponents gathered for a mini-sermon and pep talk in the Great Hall downstairs.
Capitol security was ready for crowd control and any trouble as uniformed officers dotted the building and surrounded the Capitol with squad cars.
Despite warnings the Capitol would be closed on Wednesday when it neared capacity shortly before the House gaveled to session, the crowds had not filled the marbled building, leaving room to grow.
Check back on the Hot Dish blog through the day for updates on the debate.
Star Tribune reporters will also be tweeting from @rachelsb and @stribrooks and photographer Glen Stubbe will post photos here and at @gspphoto. Also check the #mnmarriage hashtag for live tweets from all over the state.
The Star Tribune will live stream the House debate here. The debate will start at noon.