April 30, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Minn. Senate panel advances same-sex marriage ban

A Minnesota State Senate committee advanced a measure on Friday that would make a ban on same-sex marriage part of the state constitution for the North Star State.

By a party-line vote of 8-4, the Senate Judiciary & Public Safety Committee advanced the measure after three-and-a-half hours of debate, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Minnesota State Sen. Warren Limmer, the measure’s chief sponsor, reportedly said the issue of same-sex marriage is so important that the public should decide it through referendum.

“I can’t imagine anything more unacceptable than to allow a small group of politicians or perhaps even a smaller number of judges to define marriage rather than the people of Minnesota,” Limmer was quoted as saying.

House and Senate GOP leaders have said they expect both chambers to approve the amendment. A House committee is set to take up the measure on Monday. If the Legislature approves the proposed constitutional amendment, it will go before Minnesota voters in 2012. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has said he opposes the measure, although his signature isn’t necessary to ratify the amendment.

Same-sex marriage is already prohibited in Minnesota by statute, but passage of the amendment would prohibit the Legislature from legalizing same-sex marriage in the future or the state courts from finding a right to same-sex marriage in the state constitution. The measure’s supporters say the proposed constitutional amendment leaves open the possibility for enacting civil unions in Minnesota.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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