A constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota cleared a House panel vote Wednesday, moving through the Legislature and to the 2012 ballot box at a pace. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, with the measure only narrowly scraping through on a 13-12 vote with one Republican voting against.
The Minnesota Independent reports legislators opposed to the amendment, which would codify an existing statutory ban, gave impassioned pleas during hearings on the amendment, with Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, saying: “The founding fathers warned against tyranny of majority. Don’t do this.”
The amendment now moves to the House for a full vote. It is expected to be taken up Thursday, but the House will certainly need to take the bill up by Monday, which is the last day of the session.
The Minnesota Senate passed the amendment earlier this month in a 38-27 vote.
Republican legislators have openly said they will fast track the amendment so as to put it before voters in a 2012 referendum. Due to legislative rules it would bypass the Democratic governors desk.
OutFront Minnesota suggests that five Republicans are needed to side with a full compliment of Democratic legislators in order to defeat the amendment on the House floor. So far, Rep. Tim Kelly who voted against the amendment in the committee is said to have committed to voting against, as has Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove.
Realistically, however, the amendment is expected to pass and go before voters. However, a recent poll suggests that 55% of Minnesotans surveyed do not want to enact a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. This is a change on a 2004 Minnesota Poll that found 58% of Minnesotans supported a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
It should be noted that a significant number of the public identifying as either Republican or Independent have come out against the amendment, saying they find the constitutional amendment unnecessary given the existing ban, or that they believe codifying the ban amounts to an abridgment of liberty. Read more here.
Updates on the vote will appear here.