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lawmakers reject same-sex marriage ban

lawmakers reject same-sex marriage ban

The Minnesota senate judiciary committee on Tuesday turned aside a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and its legal equivalents in the state. The committee didn't directly reject the proposed amendment, which has been an emotional issue in recent years. Instead, it rejected a reworked version of the amendment. The new version would have prohibited the judicial branch from having jurisdiction over defining marriage, stipulating that the legislature has the power. The measure failed on a 5-4 vote in the committee, which has a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party majority.

The vote came after some 90 minutes of testimony on the original proposed amendment. At a packed hearing open only to ticketed observers, gay rights supporters pointed out that the state already has a law outlawing same-sex marriage and that the state constitution is not the place to deny rights to citizens.

Backers of the measure said that traditional marriage is under assault by judicial decisions around the country and that the constitution is the only way to ensure a judge doesn't overturn Minnesota's law.

Sponsors of the amendment knew they faced long odds in the judiciary committee and have vowed to keep pushing to bring the fight directly to the floor of the senate. But that body's DFL majority has repeatedly united against such efforts.

Even if it's not on the November ballot, same-sex marriage is still likely to be part of the debate in some election contests. Amendment supporters have promised to use the issue against DFL senators from rural districts, where opposition to marriage equality is generally higher.

On the other side, some suburban Republicans have distanced themselves from the amendment, cognizant of the socially moderate swing voters that they need to win reelection. (AP)

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