The group lobbying to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota is putting its support behind a Republican lawmaker's last-minute change to the bill facing a House floor vote Thursday.
Rep. David FitzSimmons (R-Albertville) on Wednesday introduced an amendment to the Freedom to Marry Act (H.F. 1054) that would insert the word "civil" in front of "marriage" in Minnesota state statute. The change would apply to all instances of marriage, whether couples are same-sex or different genders.
The change is intended to ease the concerns of some churches and make it easier for Republicans to support the bill.
RELIGION 'FREE FROM INTRUSION'
Richard Carlbom, campaign manager of Minnesotans United, released a statement backing the amendment.
"Representative FitzSimmons' amendment affirms the fact that Minnesotans want same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry in our state while also ensuring that clergy members and religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs free from government intrusion," Carlbom said.
House Speaker Paul Thissen said Thursday's scheduled vote indicates supporters of marriage equality have the 68 votes needed to pass the bill.
Should the House vote to pass H.F. 1054, the Senate will schedule a floor vote on Monday, May 13, with the session likely to convene at 11 a.m. Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the bill, and its passage would mean same-sex marriages could commence Aug. 1.
Dayton on Wednesday said the Legislature's pending vote on marriage equality is a "society changing breakthrough moment," the enormity of which can't be understated.
The legislative session ends May 20.
Read the marriage equality bill, and see its status, at http://bit.ly/11jDMgx