Senate approves same-sex marriage ban constitutional amendment

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

The Senate today (Wednesday, May 11) passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that, if approved by voters, would enshrine the language in the state constitution.

Only three Republicans spoke during floor debate extending some three hours.

“Are the proponents ashamed by what they’re doing?” asked Sen. Scott Dibble, R-Minneapolis, an openly gay legislator who during floor debate held aloft a photo of his and partner and he. “We really haven’t heard anything about why this amendment, why right now?” he asked.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, in discussing his legislation spoke of discomfort over letting “cloistered” legislators or judges decide an issue as important as the definition of marriage. “I think we have to hear from the public,” said Limmer.

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, argued that the rights of same-sex couples to enter into business agreements or other life activities would not be impeded by the proposed amendment.

Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Height, offered wording to the proposed amendment that would have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life — ostensibly banning divorce.

She argued that if lawmakers were willing to impact others in fundamental ways, they, too, should be willing to be impacted. But Goodwin voted against her own amendment, and no one else voted for it.

House Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, argued that people today sometimes judge lawmakers of the past as making bad decisions. That could be happening now, he warned. “Members, let’s not get on the wrong side of history,” said Bakk.

Limmer argued the same-sex marriage ban amendment debate came down to a basic question. “Is this body really willing to let the people decide an issue or not?” Limmer asked.

The proposed constitutional amendment passed the Senate on a 38-27 vote.

The House has not yet debated a same-sex marriage ban amendment on the House floor.

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