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Senate sponsor: same-sex marriage bill will pass with bipartisan support

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Policast, Feb. 27, 2013:

The state Senate author of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota predicted that the proposal will pass with bipartisan support.

DFL Sen. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis he's optimistic despite the fact that there hasn't yet been a hard count of supporters in the Legislature.

"My sense is that we have the momentum and we're in a strong position," Dibble said on MPR News' Policast. "But it's going to be a lot of hard work."

Although most supporters of the same-sex marriage bill are Democrats, at least a few prominent state Republicans have also backed the bill. The press conference by supporters to announce the bill Wednesday was attended by former Republican State Auditor Pat Anderson.

The legislation is also co-authored by Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, who voted last session to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"I think the partisanship of this is diminishing dramatically," Dibble said. "A number of colleagues who regretted their vote to put this on the ballot last session are now looking for an opportunity to amend that vote and now vote yes for something that's positive."

The National Organization for Marriage pledged earlier this week to spend half a million dollars to defeat Republicans in the state who vote for a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, but Dibble dismissed their effort.

"The level of political risk and downside has diminished to the point of non-existence," Dibble said. "The National Organization for Marriage and their ham-handed, threatening manner, are engaged in a self-defeating strategy there."

Dibble said he believes the electorate has already shifted on the question of same-sex marriage.

"For the most part, people just don't have the intensity of feeling that they used to have around this because they're sure that nothing bad is going to happen and only good things are going to happen in people's lives," Dibble said. "I think they're just ready to settle this issue and move on."

The legislation would repeal the state's Defense of Marriage Act and reaffirm that no church will be forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

If the bill passes in its current form, Dibble said same-sex couples in Minnesota will be able to marry starting on Aug. 1.

Policast is a daily roundup of Minnesota political news. The entire interview with Sen. Scott Dibble can be heard in the Wednesday, Feb. 27 episode. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown appeared on the Feb. 26 episode.