The House in the US state of Minnesota passed a bill to legalise equal marriage on Thursday, with a clear majority in favour.

The final vote was 75 to 59, following a two-hour debate around the issue. It will now move to the Senate, which will take up the issue on Monday.

Advocates of the measure have voiced hopes that the state will become the twelfth in the US to legally recognise same-sex marriage.

Leading up to the vote, thousands of supporters and opponents of equal marriage gathered outside the House. During the debate, opponents to the measure argued that it was “not the time” for the measure, but its proponents denied they were “destroying” marriage, and said they were to “uphold it for all”.

If it passes in the Senate on Monday, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton could sign it into law as early as next week, and same-sex weddings could begin to take place in August.

Leaders in the Senate have also said they had gathered enough votes to pass the bill.

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.