A Minnesota State House committee advanced on Monday a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the North Star State.
According to the Minnesota Independent, the Republican-controlled House Civil Law Committee approved the same-sex marriage ban after hours of testimony by a 10-7 vote along party lines. Last week, a Minnesota State Senate Committee advanced the companion version of the amendment.
Among those who offered testimony was Bishop Bob Battle of the Berean Church of God in Christ, who was quoted as saying, “I don’t consider gay marriages as the same as whites not being allowed to marry blacks.”
“Gay marriage advocates have attempted to hijack the civil rights movement,” Battle reportedly said. “I know what civil rights are, and gays in America have all the civil rights as anyone else.”
But State Rep. Steve Simon, a Democrat, said the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is an attempt “enshrine religious beliefs” into the Minnesota Constitution.
“How many more gay people does God have to create before we accept that God actually wants them around?” Simon said, reportedly eliciting shouts of approval and applause in the committee room.
Simon reportedly added, “I truly believe that in a generation, if we pass this, that generation and maybe sooner will judge us all very harshly.”
House and Senate GOP leaders have said they expect both chambers to approve the amendment. 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.