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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) Minnesota state senators have started their debate on gay marriage as the bill to legalize it here gets close to its last step in the legislative process.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill on Monday, which would send it to the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton. He has promised to sign the bill.
The Capitol is again jammed with demonstrators as the Senate takes up the bill. This time, gay marriage supporters clearly outnumber opponents which is a contrast from last Thursdays House vote, where it was more closely matched.
The bills sponsor, Sen. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis, says changing a few words in law will bring families across Minnesota into the full sunshine of equality and freedom.
The chambers majority Democratic leaders have said they expect it to pass. The House passed the bill last Thursday by a 75-59 vote. Assuming a repeat in the Senate, the bill would head to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who has promised to sign it as early as Tuesday.
A festive mood took hold among gay marriage supporters at the Capitol. Hundreds of proponents arrived hours before the vote. A choir sang from the steps, adorned with the hearts cut out of construction paper.
Down the hill in downtown St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman ordered the Wabasha Street Bridge festooned in rainbow gay pride flags to mark the occasion, and temporarily renamed it the Freedom to Marry Bridge. He also proclaimed this week as Freedom to Marry Week in the capital city.
Sen. Scott Dibble, the gay marriage bills sponsor, ascended the steps to a roar from the crowd. He told them they should be proud to serve witness to the dream we all hold in our hearts.
This is your day, he said. You made this happen.
Dibble was legally married to his partner, Richard Leyva, in California, and they will mark their fifth anniversary on Aug. 17. They said they plan to have an affirming ceremony in Minnesota that day. The bill takes effect on Aug. 1.
Rhode Island became the tenth state in the nation to legalize gay marriage on Thursday evening, when Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the recently passed bill into law. The final vote wasn’t even close. In the state House of Representatives, 56 members voted in favor of the bill while just 15 voted against. The law does specify that religious organizations can set their own rules for what does and doesn’t constitute gay marriage, but come August 1, same sex marriage will be legal in eyes of the law. The only possible down side is that civil unions will cease on July 1. They weren’t that popular to begin with, though.
RELATED: New York Gay Marriage Vote Unlikely Tonight
The civil rights victory comes just a few weeks after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two separate landmark cases related to gay marriage. The rulings expected next month will impact the marriage equality movement going forward, as many expect the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to get struck down. However, there’s plenty of data to suggest that the movement is well on its way to spreading across the country. Illinois, Minnesota and Delaware are all close to passing gay marriage legislation. The president’s pledged his support for marriage equality. And except for the few, fringe holdouts, the majority of Americans approve of gay marriage, too.
RELATED: Cuomo ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Gay Marriage Law Will Pass
Meanwhile, Rhode Islanders couldn’t be happier. “I’m ecstatic,” Deborah Tevyaw,who had campaigned for the legislation,told the Associated Press. “We worked hard for this. There were petitions, door knocking, phone calls.” Everyone who’s campaigned for marriage equality knows that the finish line is still far away having ten states with gay marriage also means have 40 states without it but many people feel like the time has come. As Tevyaw put it, “I think people decided, ‘just let people be happy.’”
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MALCOLM Blackman, 45, is accused of raping a woman in her 40s at the Occupy London Stock Exchange champ outside St Pauls Cathedral.
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Ammar Awad / Reuters
Racers reach the finish line of the first Palestinian marathon in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Sunday.
By Paul Goldman, Producer, NBC News
BETHLEHEM, West Bank Jesus’ traditional birthplace has long been linked to tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. On Sunday, around 650 athletes took a step towards transforming Bethlehem’s modern image by running in the first official Palestinian marathon.
Its a strange site to see people run in the West Bank, said runner Dina Khuri, 21, from Beit Sahour. Usually when people run here it has to do with violence, but this time its for fun.”
Courtesy Dina Khouri
Dina Khouri, left, took part in an historic marathon in the West Bank on Sunday.
Security was tight in the wake of the Boston attacks that killed three and injured more than 170 on Monday. Before the event, organizers said they were “deeply saddened by the news from Boston.”
For George Zeidan from Jerusalem, the marathon was not only about fitness.
“Sports (are) my inspiration and my way of identifying myself,” he wrote in a blog posted on the marathon website before the race. “I am running for the freedom of Palestine and my people. I am running to inform everybody that we Palestinians are just like everyone else, we run, dance, sing, play, jump, and have fun, not only that but we are also good at it.”
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The amount of change happening in Washington right now is impressive. Congressional leaders are debating legislation on gun control and immigration, and lawmakers from both parties are coming out in support of gay marriage. This kind of sea change cant happen right now with energy and climate policy. Here are five reasons why.
1. Humanizing policy. Despite what Candy Crowley might say about climate change people and despite the message conveyed by the American Petroleum Institute with its energy voter campaign from last year, energy and climate policy does not embody itself in human beings. Contrast that with immigration, gay marriage, and gun control. Hispanics, and the U.S. companies who employ them, want immigration reform. People whose family members or close friends are gay want them to be able to get married. Surviving victims of gun violence and family and friends of those killed want Congress to do something, anything, to crack down on guns. The political benefits of these human elements are reflected in effective advertising and lobbying that pull on peoples heart strings. The connection between human beings and what Washington can or should do with energy and climate policy is less tangible.
2. Electoral consequences. This is the biggest reason why the Republican Party, which got just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 presidential race, wants to do something on immigration. For energy and environment policy, these consequences have either not materialized at all or the consequences have negatively affected candidates seeking to change the status quo. To wit: In the 2010 midterm elections, when the House flipped control from Democrats to Republicans, several red-state Democrats, such as former Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., lost their seats in part because of their votes in favor of legislation that created a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, which the scientific consensus agrees causes global warming. Frankly, a lot of us believe Republicans are in the majority because of cap-and-trade, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a recent interview with National Journal Daily.
3. Agreeing on the problem. As long as the leaders of the Republican Party deny that Congress must act to address global warming, not enough political momentum will exist to move energy and climate policy forward. Washington cannot solve a problem whose definition it cannot agree on. Contrast that with immigration, gun control, and gay marriage. Lawmakers from both parties agree on the problem with immigration and gun control. This doesnt necessarily mean Congress will pass meaningful legislation on either one of these contentious issues, but it has clearly set the stage for meaningful legislative momentum. On gay marriage, both the majority of the public and more and more lawmakers are agreeing that there doesnt seem to be a problem at all with gay people having a right to marry someone they love.
4. Cultural roots. The issues of marriage, immigration, and gun control are rooted not in science, but culture. Climate change, and its connection to fossil fuels, is instead chiefly rooted in science. Almost all scientists around the world agree humans use of coal, oil, and natural gas is causing global warming, but the science is not yet quite as clear or settled when it comes to how global warming affects people on a more granular level by way of extreme weather such as droughts, more intense storms, and heat waves. As long as that scientific consensus is not strong, Washington will find it hard to gain momentum on big energy and climate legislation. People already find it hard to wrap their heads around how climate change affects them personally, and unsettled science doesnt help make that clearer. Some experts say that by the time the scientific consensus about the connection between global warming and extreme weather is crystal-clear enough for political momentum, it will be too late to do anything about the most adverse effects of climate change. Some people think its already too late.
5. Taking your time. Advocates for immigration reform have been grappling for reform for some 30 years. For gun-control advocates, 1994 was the last time any major legislation was passed in their favor (and that legislation, the assault-weapons ban, ended up hurting Democrats politically in the 1994 elections). Gay-marriage supporters first started fighting for their cause in the early 1970s. Congress last passed major energy legislation in 2005 and 2007. The last time it passed major environmental legislation was the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. Congress first started debating substantive legislation to address global warming some 13 years ago, at the start of this millennium. Thats longer than some political careers, but in Washington legislative speak, it could be considered normal. There was one time I put a clean-air bill on the floor, said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longtime chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee during the 1980s and ’90s. Everyone patted me on the back and said: Oh, Dingell, youve got this bill through in 13 hours. Howd you do it? I said: Oh, it was really simple, it only took me 13 years to get that damn thing to where I could get it through in 13 hours. He didnt mention the bill by name, but Dingell was referring to those 1990 amendments of the Clean Air Act.
In other words, just be patient, energy and climate watchers. Its not your timeright now.
A group that opposes legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota is being criticized for materials it sent to pastors urging them to take a stance against same-sex marriage in their Sunday sermons, including information that compares the tactics of gay rights activists to Nazi propaganda.
“This is the second time in less than six months that spokespeople for Minnesota for Marriage have compared our respectful conversation and the loving and committed relationships of same-sex couples to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Sending this appalling comparison out during Passover and as we approach Easter makes it even more hurtful to people of faith,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families.
Minnesota for Marriage, which opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, called the issue a “smoke screen” by the other side and an example of the kind of attack on religious freedom that can be expected if same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.
“This is simply a desperate attempt to distract Minnesotans in order to convince them that children don’t really need a mother and a father,” said Autumn Leva, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage. “This distraction just exposes the fact that they have been saying the people of Minnesota have given them a mandate to legalize gay marriage, when all the polls show that they didn’t.”
The group is promoting a “Stand For Marriage Sunday” on April 7. Materials were posted on the group’s website Wednesday,
One section in a document entitled “Sermon Starters” refers to “old ‘gay gene’ studies” cited by homosexuals who say, “We were born this way; it is in our genes; God made us gay.”
“They essentially practice Joseph Goebel’s Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it,” the document states, misspelling the Nazi figure’s last name.
Minnesota for Marriage faced criticism in the fall when its church outreach director, the Rev. Brad Brandon, compared opponents’ tactics on the gay marriage amendment fight to those used by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Brandon and other Minnesota for Marriage leaders quickly apologized for the “inapt” analogy at the time.
Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/meganboldt.
The new issue of Time magazine has declared it: “Gay Marriage Already Won: The Supreme Court Hasn’t Made Up Its MindBut America Has.” To go along with that statement, and a cover story by David von Drehle, they’re offering us two covers of same-sex couples mid-kiss, taken byTimephotographerPeter Hapak:Sarah Kate and Kristen Ellis-Henderson, who have been married since 2011, andRussell Hart and Eric LaBont, who have been engaged since 2010.
RELATED: Is This the Last Big Gay-Marriage Fight?
It makes sense, right? It’s a push further along the line of newsweekly covers discussing gay rights: from protesting to hand-holding to hugging. A kiss would have to follow at some point.And a kiss is one of the most basic images with which we can show love. It’s a universal experience, something anyone over the age of 12 or 14 can probably relate to. A kiss is also traditionally that thing that happens at the end of the wedding, when the vows have been spoken and the pronouncements have been made.The striking combination of this intimate moment shared between same-sex couples on a public cover is both timely and Time-ly (i.e., will, surely the editors hope, sell more magazines and get people talking).
RELATED: Supreme Court to Review Gay Marriage: Everything You Need to Know Now
But that same-sex couples kissing on a magazine cover is still cause for surprise, for shock, for discussions and reactions and double takes, that it would even be a cover, means in fact we’re not quite all the way there. The expectations of how the Supreme Court will ultimately rulestrike down DOMA but allow the lower court’s ruling to stand on Prop 8, meaning gay marriage would be legal in California but remain banned in other statesindicate that as well, even as public opinion has experienced a sea change, an inspiring open-mindedness and acceptance that seems all but sure to continue.
RELATED: Five Best Monday Columns
Online reactions to the covers appear to support that dual reality of what we want to achievethe point we should someday (soon, one hopes) reachand where we are as well. On Twitter, I’m seeing words like “provocative,” “sexy,” and “sure-to-be-controversial,” among the reactions. At BuzzFeed,Dorsey Shaw saysTimeis “sexualizing same-sex marriage.”Andrew Beaujon writes at Poynter that there was much discussion in the Time offices over the covers:In an editor’s note, Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel explains, “We had a long debate in our offices about this week’s cover images of two same-sex couples. Some thought they were sensationalist and too in-your-face. Others felt the images were beautiful and symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage. I agree with the latter, and I hope you do too.”
RELATED: A User’s Guide to Day 2 of Gay Marriage at the Supreme Court, DOMA Edition
Would such a debate have existed over a cover featuring heterosexual couples kissing? Would such a thing be considered “sensationalist”? Doubtful. Certainly, these rather chaste, lovely images of couples kissing are not even close to embodying the sensationalism of another cover I can think of.But also, there’d be little cause to put a hetero couple kissing on a cover, or at least, no reason that comes easily to my mind. I think these covers are great, but that we need them, regardless of Von Drehle’s article and the progress that’s been made, means gay marriage hasn’t, in fact, quite “won”yet. It won’t have won until marriage is legal for same-sex couples throughout the U.S., and recognized federally, too. It won’t have won until “gay marriage” is no different than any marriage. And it won’t have won until gay couples kissing wouldn’t even merit consideration from an editor at Time magazine as a cover, not because it’s too sensationalist, but because, well, why would you even do that? Don’t we see all sorts of combinations of people kissing everywhere? We’re all perfectly fine with that. Let’s move on to a discussion that gets people riled up! How we feel about PDA: Now that’s a topic that can apply to all of us.
RELATED: Scalia Reveals His Current Thinking on Gay Marriage (and Murder)
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The number of Democrats who publicly oppose gay marriage dwindled this week as arguments in two Supreme Court cases drew national attention – and political pressure – to the issue.
In a matter of four days, six Democratic senators issued statements indicating that their view of the marriage debate had changed in favor of allowing Americans to marry regardless of gender. Only nine of the 53 Democrats in the Senate continue to oppose marriage equality in some way, and of those, few come down staunchly on the side of preserving the traditional one-man, one-woman definition.
Those nine senators are Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bill Nelson of Florida, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. Of the nine, some oppose DOMA, some have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, others are less specific.
Manchin’s answer is straightforward: Spokesperson Katie Longo said that guided by his faith, Manchin “believes that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman” and wants to uphold DOMA.
Nelson is a more complicated case. In May 2012 he told the Miami Herald he believes the issue should be left to the states, but a spokesperson for his office told TIME this week that Nelson supports the one-man, one-woman vision of traditional marriage.
Some of those with more complicated stances on the issue tend to value a term President Obama once used to describe his views on gay marriage: “evolving.”
“Senator Carper was proud to support Delaware’s efforts to enact civil union legislation and earlier this month he joined 211 of his Congressional colleagues in co-signing the amicus brief that urges the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of DOMA,” a spokesperson for Carper told ABC News this week. “Like many Americans including Presidents Obama and Clinton, Senator Carper’s views on this issue have evolved, and continue to evolve.”
“Change” is another favorite.
“We’ll have to see what the Supreme Court says about gay marriage,” Landrieu told POLITICO on Tuesday. “And I just think that people’s views about it are changing quite rapidly, a more progressive position. I’m just going to continue to talk to the people of my state.”
An ABC/Washington Post poll released last week showed support for legal gay marriage among Americans had grown from 37 percent in 2003 to 58 percent. Almost 84 percent of Democratic Congress members signed an amicus brief for the Supreme Court asking them to overturn DOMA.