Mourning and tears of joy will greet Monday's vote on same-sex marriage.
Outside the state Capitol, where the state Senate is expected to vote to legalize gay marriage Monday afternoon, Don Lee had set up a gravestone reading "RIP Marriage 2013."
"It is the end of marriage as we know it," said Lee, of Eagan. "You still have the word but you don't have the meaning."
He said while a ban on same-sex marriage did not belong in the constitution, he mourned the ending of the connection between solemn marriage vows and procreation.
Lee was far outnumbered in his solo protest by supporters of legalization, who crowded the Capitol's august steps to greet incoming Senators with songs and cheers.
Lisa Vecoli, of Minneapolis, was among the greeters.
"I didn't expect it to come for a long time," Vecoli said of the expected legalization.
She said she sobbed with joy in her office on Thursday when she and her partner watched the Minnesota House approve the marriage bill on a 75-59 vote. She was prepared for the emotion to flow on Monday.
"I will not even try to hold back the tears," Vecoli said, patting her pack, which had tissues at the ready.
The Minnesota Senate on Monday afternoon will bring to a close the state's long and wrenching conversation about same-sex marriage as it takes votes to legalize gay couples' unions.
With the expected approval, the measure will be sent to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton who will likely sign it into law in a celebratory ceremony on Tuesday.
Once the bill becomes law, Minnesota, which last year rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, will become the twelfth state to offer same-sex couples the same right to marriage as heterosexual couples have.
For people on both sides of the issue, the law will conclude a decades-long conversation about the state's role in marriage, the meaning of couples' unions, equality, freedom and religious beliefs.
On Thursday, in a hushed and emotional debate, the Minnesota House voted 75-59 to approve same-sex marriage. The Senate debate on Monday is expected to be equally solemn, with lawmakers standing up one by one to make their wishes clear. The Star Tribune will live stream that debate here.
But outside the august Senate chamber, the scene is expected to be much more raucous. Citizens with strong feelings for and against legalization will chant, cheer and plead with lawmakers to vote their way. The Star Tribune will live stream those crowds here.
Please check the Hot Dish blog throughout the day for updates from the debate and scenes from the Capitol on Monday.
Showing that same sex marriage is not a strictly partisan issue, four House Republicans on Thursday voted to legalize it and two Democrats voted not to.
Republican Reps. Pat Garofalo, of Farmington, David FitzSimmons, of Albertville, Rep. Jenifer Loon, of Eden Prairie, and Rep. Andrea Kieffer, of Woodbury, voted 'yes.' DFL Reps. Patti Fritz, of Faribault and Mary Sawatsky, of Willmar, voted 'no.'
Their decisions, which added to the 75-59 House vote for legalization, came after long, wrenching months of lobbying, a myriad of email and pressure from all sides.
"It is an issue that the state has been having for a long time," said Loon. Last year, 58 percent of her district voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.
She said she made her decision as she listened to floor speeches on Thursday, with an email from one of her daughter's best friend's on her mind. The email revealed that the friend was gay.
"It was a culmination of really an outpouring of input from my constituents across the district, Republicans, Democrats," said loon. "I've heard from so many parents with gay children. For them this is so important for them having their children accepted in society."
On the House floor on Thrusday, she quoted turn-of-the-century newspaper editor William Allen White as saying, "Liberty is only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others."
For the Republicans, a key moment came when lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a change the bill in a way FitzSimmons proposed. It added the word 'civil' in front of the word 'marriage' in state law and made absolutely clear that no religious institution could be punished if it chooses not to solemnize any civil marriage.
"As a Catholic, this was very important to me," said Garofalo. He said he knew the House would vote to legalize same sex marriage with or without his vote but he wanted to vote for it to make sure that religious organizations -- including Catholic charities -- would be protected.
His district was split last year with 51 percent voting for to define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
FitzSimmons, whose district voted 53 percent to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage, said he plans to watch the law as it goes forward to make sure that indeed religious organizations are not penalized for their beliefs.
Although the Republican votes for came as a surprise -- up until the voting board lit up it was unclear if the measure would get any GOP support -- the two Democratic votes against it were less so.
Both Democrats come from districts that strongly backed last year's constitutional amendments.
“I am elected to listen to my constituents, and what they are consistently telling me is that marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” Sawatzky said earlier this year. “I need to listen to the constituents of my county.”
On Monday when the Senate takes up the same sex marriage measure, at least one Democrat -- Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, of Plummer, has made clear he plans to vote against it -- and at least one Republican -- Sen. Branden Petersen, of Andover, will vote for it.
Petersen, a co-sponsor of the legalization measure, said he expects he four to six Republicans will join him in supporting it.
"It's looking more like the higher end now," Petersen said.
Of the four Republican votes in the House, he said: "It's huge, it's great and that's what we've been working on the last few months..It's a good thing for the state of Minnesota to know that it's not 100 percent a partisan issue."
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.
The Minnesota Senate on Wednesday approved a minimum wage hike that could give 200,000 a raise.
The measure, passed on a 39-28 vote, would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by 2015.
"Where I live, there are a lot of people who are making the minimum wage and they’re doing that to make ends meet," said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.
The Senate's proposal would give low wage workers a 50-cent jump in pay over the current $7.25 per hour federal minimum when fully phased in by 2015.
Minnesota law currently dictates a $6.15 minimum per hour for large employers but, because it is lower than the federal standard, most businesses are required to pay employees at least $7.25 an hour.
Last week, the Minnesota House approved a plan to increase the hourly standard to $9.50 an hour by 2015.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said that he preferred the House version but would sign the Senate version if that was the only option.
“Something is better than nothing," the governor said. “But,” he added, “I’d be very disappointed.”
Union groups, which are key advocates for lifting the minimum wage and important DFL allies, have made clear they prefer the House version.
The House version would not only require a higher pay hike, it would also automatically increase the minimum wage as the cost of living increases. The Senate version does not include that wage inflator.
On Wednesday, Republicans argued that if the minimum wage rises beyond the federal minimum Minnesotans would lose their jobs.
“What this is a poverty bill,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R- Lino Lakes. “It’s another bill of false hope and false promises.”