Thousands of people are expected to pack into the Minnesota Capitol today as the House takes up a bill to legalize gay marriage.
Two hours before the debate was set to begin, protestors and supporters were already lined up outside the House chamber chanting in support of their causes. Opponents of gay marriage clutched pink signs that read "Don't erase moms and dads." Supporters carried their own orange signs that said "I support the freedom to marry."
It's already getting loud and hot in the Capitol and security officials have advised they will not allow people to enter the Capitol once they've determined it's reached maximum capacity. Meanwhile, there are several school kid groups that happen to be here today touring the Capitol.
Most of the members of the southeast MInnesota delegation have stated how they plan to vote on the gay marriage bill, but there are a few uncertainties. Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, has declined to discuss how she will vote. She favors a proposal by Rep.Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, to remove the word "marriage" in state law and replace it with "civil unions." He argues that would get government out of defining marriage. He plans to offer his bill as an amendment on the House floor today. Norton has said in the past that if the same-sex marriage bill did come to the floor, she would have a hard time voting against it.
Also unknown is Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona. He has declined to answer questions about how he will vote. All the other southeast Minnesota House Republicans have said they will vote no and the other Democrats will vote yes.
The debate kicks off at noon, and I will be live tweeting on my twitter feed @pbhcarlson.