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Republican lawmakers in Minnesota announced a plan Tuesday to fast-track their efforts to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before voters in 2012.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on the plan to put the amendment on the 2012 general election ballot even though Minnesota law already prohibits same-sex marriage. Sen. Warren Limmer is leading the effort, which Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, opposes, but he can exert little influence on the outcome.
"In Minnesota, the only way to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot is to have both legislative chambers approve it by simple majorities," reports the Pioneer Press. "Such a bill is not subject to a veto or any other action by the governor. Similar bans have been proposed before, most recently in 2006 by then-state Sen. Michele Bachmann. Her bills made little headway under the DFL-controlled Legislature. Today, however, Republicans control both chambers.
"For an amendment to succeed, more than 50 percent of ballots cast must be a 'yes' vote. Because a ballot without a choice marked on the amendment is equivalent to a 'no' vote, public awareness campaigns are viewed as crucial, such as in the successful campaign to pass the Legacy Amendment to fund arts and the environment in 2008," reports the Pioneer Press.
The campaign is expected to cost millions of dollars and energize both the liberal and conservative bases. If approved by both chambers, the amendment for consideration in 2012 would read, "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
The Pioneer Press reports that polls have consistently shown most Minnesotans oppose marriage equality, although a majority would vote against an amendment banning it. A majority of Minnesotans also want to see the question put to a ballot, which Republicans have used to justify their effort.
A public hearing on the bill is expected as soon as this week.