The gay marriage ban is moving fast in Minnesota. Yesterday, the haters in the state Senate committee passed a bill that will allow folks to vote on banning gay marriage.
More to come as this issue continues.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill 8-4, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed. Passage by the full Senate and the House appears likely with solid Republican majorities in both chambers, meaning voters in 2012 would be asked to enshrine in Minnesota's Constitution a prohibition on same-sex marriage that already exists in state law.
Supporters said the constitutional definition of marriage is important enough to give the final say to voters, rather than elected officials or judges. Critics said the bill reflects a narrow religious agenda that doesn't belong in the state Constitution and that a months-long, divisive debate will distract from more important issues facing the state.
It's the first time in five years that a Minnesota legislative committee held a hearing on gay marriage. Two hours of testimony from both sides grew heated at times, and an overflow crowd that didn't fit into the Capitol hearing room could nonetheless be heard loudly cheering at pivotal moments as they watched nearby on closed-circuit TV.
The chief Senate sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, said a recent Hennepin County lawsuit challenging Minnesota's statute banning gay marriage demonstrated the need for a stronger constitutional prohibition. A judge dismissed that challenge earlier this year, but Limmer said it showed the risk to the traditional definition of marriage.
"This issue is on track to go forward to our court system," Limmer said.