BY PATRICK CONDON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota appears poised to legalize gay marriage, as the Democratic speaker of the state House said Tuesday that a gay marriage bill endorsed by the governor and likely to pass in the state Senate also now has enough backing in his chamber.
The House will vote on the measure Thursday, and if it passes, the Democratic-led Senate could vote on it as soon as Saturday.
House Speaker Paul Thissen, of Minneapolis, said that the 73-member Democratic majority he leads will produce at least the 68 votes needed to pass the bill. Senate leaders are also confident of passage, and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has promised to sign the bill, which would allow gay couples to marry as of Aug. 1.
"I think it's in line with the tradition we've had in Minnesota about respecting people, making sure everybody is included in our community and the fullness of participation in that," Thissen said.
If the bill passes, it would mark a stunning about-face on the issue in Minnesota, where only six months ago voters were asked whether they wanted to enshrine the current gay marriage ban in the state constitution. They didn't.
No House Republicans have committed to vote for the bill. Thissen said while their votes are not needed, they would be appreciated. "It's not a partisan issue. You've seen many prominent Republicans speak out on this issue," Thissen said. One Senate Republican, Branden Petersen of Andover, publicly supports the bill.
On Tuesday, gay marriage became legal in Delaware, making it the 11th state, plus Washington, D.C., with marriage equality.