A proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will be decided by Minnesota voters next year after the Minnesota House on Saturday approved placing the amendment on the state ballot in November 2012. Minnesota already prohibits same-sex marriage, but backers say this amendment will prevent any legalization in the future. The amendment, if approved by voters, would define marriage as only between one man and one woman. The House voted mostly along party lines, with only four Republicans voting against it.
Opponents of the amendment say that the constitution should be used to expand rights, not limit them. Rep. Tina Liebling (D) called the amendment un-American, saying the civil rights of the gay minority should not be up to a vote by the straight majority. She predicted a long and divisive public debate in Minnesota leading up to November.
Saturday’s legislative debate drew hundreds of people to the Capitol in protest. Minnesota legislator John Kriesel (R), a veteran who lost his legs while fighting in Iraq, saluted a fellow gay soldier who lost his life there. He closed his emotional argument by saying, “This amendment is not what I fought for over there. Those people out there,” he said, referring to the protesters outside, “That’s what I fought for and I’m proud of it.”