Minnesota Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment

Ban on same-sex marriage advances in the State Legislature Toward 2012 Ballot.

A proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman, thereby prohibiting same-sex marriage, passed the Minnesota Senate on May 11, which brought it one step closer to appearing on the 2012 ballot.

Senator Warren Limmer (Republican-Maple Grove) introduced the bill April 27. If it passes the House of Representatives, it would allow the Minnesota electorate to determine whether a ban on gay marriage would be added to the state constitution.

“The proposed constitutional amendment asks voters to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman in Minnesota,” Limmer said in a press release. “This issue constantly comes up during legislative sessions, and it’s time for the people to decide.”

State law already prohibits same-sex marriage, but a constitutional amendment would make the ban more difficult to change in the future.

Monica Meyer, Executive Director of Outfront Minnesota, said the amendment does not serve the public good.

“It is really disheartening that the Legislature is going down this path,” Meyer said. “Using LGBT people and families as political fodder is really not taking the responsibility to look out for future generations.”

According to Meyer, results of recent polls are promising, and show increased support for same-sex marriage nationwide. A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, released March 18, found that 53 percent of Americans say it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry.

Meyer asserted that supporters of equality need to oppose the amendment publicly, contact their legislators, and “do everything they can to stop it.”

“I hope we can show that this amendment doesn’t speak for our state,” Meyer said. “We want to show that Minnesotans support fairness and equity for all people.”

Denny Smith, Executive Director of the organization Winning Marriage Equality, and father of a gay son, said the amendment provides an opportunity for reasonable discussion across the state.

“It’s going to bring [same-sex marriage] to the forefront, and people are going to talk about it,” Smith explained. “I really am optimistic that the people of Minnesota will analyze it, and find that [same-sex marriage] is not going to hurt anybody. I think that the people of Minnesota are going to say enough is enough.”

In Smith’s words, “The rights of the minority should not be put to a vote of the majority. Let’s embrace the fact that it is, and go out and tell our stories.”

Same-sex marriage has been legalized by five states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

In March, President Barack Obama announced that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Passed in 1996, it prohibits marriage for same-sex couples.

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