ST. PAUL (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers have launched a push to allow gay marriage in the state beginning this summer.

Sponsors of the gay marriage bill aim to repeal Minnesota's 1997 law that prohibited marriage between couples of the same sex.

They say the bill will exempt churches from being forced to perform same-sex weddings.

At Wednesday's news conference, gay couples stood holding their young children. The image was meant to showcase family diversity exists already in Minnesota.

The drive got a boost last year when Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional gay marriage ban. Gay marriage opponents say the results of that vote don't translate to widespread support for allowing same-sex couples to legally marry.

Gov. Mark Dayton says he would sign the bill if it reaches him. Weddings could commence in August.

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