ST. PAUL — After nearly six hours of emotional debate, a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was approved in the Minnesota House on Saturday night. It was the last legislative step needed to put the question on the state ballot in November 2012.
State law already prohibits gay marriage, but supporters of the proposed amendment said it is necessary to prevent judges or lawmakers from legalizing it in the future. Opponents said the constitution should be used to expand rights, not limit them.
The House voted 70 to 62, mostly along party lines, though four Republicans crossed over to vote ‘no’ and two Democrats voted in favor of the ban.
Saturday’s debate drew hundreds of people to the Capitol. Democratic Representative Karen Clark described her 22-year committed relationship with her female partner. She said they considered getting married in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal, so her ailing father could see her marry.
“Please don’t make me go off to Iowa,’’ she told her colleagues. “I was raised in Minnesota. I’m a child of Minnesota.’’
After the vote, Clark said it was “a sad day for Minnesota.’’
But Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, said it was an important step and that “Minnesotans have been given the opportunity to have an important conversation about the future of marriage.’’