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Continued: In historic vote, Minnesota House approves gay marriage bill 75-59

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 11, 2013 - 12:11 PM

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said he fears that schools eventually will be forced to teach students about homosexuality in sex education classes, normalizing what he considers deviant behavior.

“Think about what’s best for the children,” Gruenhagen said. “Please vote for the children.”

Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, said the measure stigmatizes Minnesotans who oppose same-sex marriage.

“We are classifying half of Minnesotans as bigots in this bill — and they are not,” he said.

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said he was raised by a mother and a father and continues to believe that is best for children. “I am not a homophobe or a Neanderthal or a hater,” he said.

The vote could have career-ending consequences for some members who defied majority opinion within their districts.

Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, looked exhausted but upbeat as he cast a vote in favor of same-sex marriage that could put him at odds with his conservative district.

“I don’t think I’m going to lose my seat,” the first-termer said. “It’s an emotional day. We all hold these beliefs deep in our hearts, and I think we heard a great conversation today.”

Two DFLers from rural areas voted against same-sex marriage: Reps. Patti Fritz of Faribault and Mary Sawatzky of Willmar.

Minnesotans United for All Families, the lead group pressing for same-sex marriage, spent weeks reaching out to Republicans in hopes of winning strong bipartisan support. Only one Republican — Sen. Branden Petersen of Andover — had announced his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Freshman Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, proposed a last-minute change to add “civil” to the state’s marriage laws. The change, which was adopted, is intended to draw a line between civil and religious marriage ceremonies.

After staying silent on the issue for weeks, a sometimes teary FitzSimmons then voted for the measure, as did Republican Reps. Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie and Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury.

FitzSimmons said that once he saw the outcome as inevitable, he started working with same-sex marriage supporters to craft the law to ensure religious protections.

“The people I was thinking about are the people who attend churches in my district, and it’s incredibly important that they are able to keep their freedom while others do what they think is their freedom,” FitzSimmons said after the vote.

Garofalo said he never would have voted for the marriage measure without the protections afforded by the FitzSimmons amendment. “For me, I am Catholic, and it is a very personal issue for me,” Garofalo said.

Nationally, hundreds of prominent Republicans have broken with their party on the issue and announced their support for same-sex marriage.

Brian McClung, once a spokesman for Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, recently announced his support for same-sex marriage.

Dueling chants and crowds

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