May 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - An unprecedented move at the Minnesota State Capitol as the push to legalize same-sex marriage passed with a 75-59 vote on Thursday afternoon.
It's a move some members of the St. Cloud community say has been a long time coming.
Dan Haskamp is the president of Central Minnesota's chapter of PFLAG, an organization which advocates for the GLBT community. Haskamp says he and his colleagues felt good about today's vote.
"We felt strong going into today," Haskamp says. "You're never 100 percent, but we were fairly confident."
Haskamp, who has been leading the chapter for four years, say PFLAG has been active in both St. Cloud and area rural communities, hosting weekly support groups along with school talks, rallies and parades.
He says bringing GLBT awareness to rural communities has been a key feature of their work.
"People aren't aware of how many [gay people] are out there, and so many are quiet and afraid to come out," he says. "This will be a big step in resolving that. It will take time, but it will help people fully realize they're not second-class citizens. They deserve better."
Haskamp's connection to the issue of same-sex marriage is especially personal as the father of a gay son. He says issue isn't political anymore; it's about civil rights.
"It's about time," Haskamp says. "I'm so proud of Minnesota for doing this. Hopefully the senate will follow suit, and we'll see marriages by August."
The historic vote comes on the heels of November's election, which included a constitutional effort to ban same-sex weddings.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week, and Governor Mark Dayton has said previously that he'll sign it if it hits his desk.
Eleven other states allow gay marriages, including Rhode Island and Delaware, which approved laws in the past week.
Minnesota would be the first state in the Midwest to pass the measure out of the Legislature.
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