The Minnesota House made history Thursday, voting 75-59 to legalize same-sex marriage after three hours of heartfelt speeches from members on both sides of the issue.

The Senate is expected to OK the bill soon, and Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign it into law.

In a closing statement just before the House vote, the bill’s author, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, acknowledged that many opponents believe the change will “redefine marriage.’’ But Clark rightly pointed out that extending the right to same-sex couples “strengthens the meaning’’ of marriage by making it more inclusive.

Clark also expressed her thanks to colleagues who took a “very risky chance’’ to support her bill. We add our thanks to House members who voted yes in the face of strong and often emotional opposition.

Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, merits praise for crafting a last-minute amendment that added the word “civil’’ before marriage. The move clarified that the proposal will change only the legal definition of marriage, not encroach on the religious freedoms of those individuals and institutions that are opposed.

And we hope that over time, even those who object to same-sex marriage today will conclude that extending marriage rights to gay couples was the proper and fair thing to do.

It’s been a good couple of weeks for marriage equality in America. Last week, Rhode Island legalized marriage for all, and on Tuesday, ­Delaware followed suit. Now Minnesota is one step closer to joining 11 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriage.

Minnesotans should be proud to be in such good company. It speaks volumes about our sense of fairness to be among the pioneering states on this important equal-rights issue.

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