Thousands turned out to watch the signing of the same-sex marriage
bill on Tuesday (Pic: Minnesotans United)

Minnesota became the 12th US state to legalise same-sex marriage after Governor Mark Dayton signed a gay marriage bill into law on Tuesday.

In a close vote of 37 for and 30 against, the state legislature passed the bill on Monday, providing equal access to civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples.

The next day, more than 6,000 Minnesotans turned out to watch the signing ceremony on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol.

The crowd roared with approval as Governor Dayton signed the bill, which will come into effect in August.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should certainly include the right to marry the person you love,” said Dayton.

The development comes just six months after Minnesotans voted to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In a statement, same-sex marriage campaign Minnesotans United welcomed the legalisation of gay marriage.

“Across all political backgrounds and religious beliefs, Minnesotans spoke up and affirmed what we already knew to be true: Marriage matters, and it is a basic freedom that should not be denied to some simply because of who they are.

“Governor Dayton’s signature today makes the dreams of so many families a reality, and makes Minnesota a more free and fair place for all who call it home,” said the group.

In the last month, two other US states – Delaware and Rhode Island – have legalised same-sex marriage.

The growing support for marriage equality in America comes as the US Supreme Court is expected to hand down decisions on two historic marriage-related cases by the end of June.

Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, and United States v. Windsor, challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognising gay marriages in states where they are legal.

In addition to Minnesota, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as in the District of Columbia.

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