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Same-sex benefits bill passes

Supporters of same-sex relationships applauded a bill senators approved 43-22 Thursday that allows local governments to decide whether employees' health-care benefits extend to same-sex partners.

Republican lawmakers opposed the measure, saying Minnesota needs a uniform definition of who qualifies as a dependent.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said allowing cities, counties and school districts to provide those benefits attracts skilled workers. He said lawmakers often talk about the wisdom of local officials.

"Let's prove it," he said. "Let's give them this ability."