The equal marriage bill in Minnesota passed committees in both the House and Senate, and will head to the floor on both sides of the legislature.

Minnesota State Senate members on the Judiciary Committee, as well as the Civil Law Committee in the House, on Tuesday passed the equal marriage bill.

After hearing almost three hours of testimony, the Senate committee passed the bill 5 votes to 3, along party lines, and the House committee voted voted 10 to 7 for the bill.

Lawmakers heard impassioned testimony from those on both sides of the equal marriage debate, and went on to consider the bill on “marriage of two persons”.

In November 2012, Minnesotan voters avoided a constitutional ban on marriage equality, and pro-equality campaigners have since stepped up efforts to push for equal marriage to be legalised. 

A group opposed to equal marriage in the state has pledged half a million dollars to defeat any Republican legislator voting to legalise marriage equality.

On 6 November, voters in Minnesota voted ‘no’ on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as being a union solely between a man and a woman.

WashingtonMaine and Maryland legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states on the same day.