Crowd gathers in advance of House vote on same-sex marriage

John Stumme, left, and Kyle Hanson
John Stumme, left, and Kyle Hanson with their children Sofie, 6 and Henry, 3. Supporters of a same-sex marriage bill gathered in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday May 8, 2013. The Minnesota House is scheduled to debate and vote Thursday on a measure that would make the state the 12th in the country to allow gay marriage.
MPR Photo/Matt Sepic

Large crowds are expected at the state Capitol Thursday as the Minnesota House prepares to vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Supporters attended a vigil Wednesday evening at Christ Lutheran Church near the Capitol.

John Stumme and his husband, Kyle Hanson, attended the prayer vigil with their two children. The men were married in California four years ago.

Stumme said if the bill passes, they will apply for a Minnesota marriage license.

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"Kyle and I love each other deeply and we want to be married," Stumme said "And we want our children to know that their parents' relationship is no different than any other relationship in the eyes of the state."

Pastor Anita Hill told the capacity crowd she is hopeful lawmakers will pass the measure so she and others in same-sex relationships may marry in Minnesota.

"Tonight we stand on the edge of hope of possibility, and we are here to pray a new reality into being," Hill said.

Those who oppose letting gay couples marry also plan to pray, and protest at the Capitol.

A constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage, failed at the polls in November. Autumn Leva with Minnesota for Marriage points to a Star Tribune poll from March that shows 53 percent of state residents want to keep state law as is.

"The vast majority of Minnesotans around the state are not happy about this. Especially in greater Minnesota," Leva said. "They feel the Legislature is pushing this on them when that's not what they voted for in November."

If the measure passes the House, the Senate could vote on it Monday. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Minnesota could become the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage following Delaware, which enacted a similar measure Tuesday.

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Marriage amendment: How it was defeated in 2012
Map: How Minnesotans voted for the marriage amendment