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House Committee Sets Up Floor Vote On Gay Marriage

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV and Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) – The Rules Committee of the Minnesota House has narrowly approved a floor vote on the constitutional gay marriage amendment.

The committee voted 13-12 Wednesday to put the issue before the full House. The committee’s republican majority voted in favor, with one defection from Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing. All 11 committee democrats opposed the measure to put the definition of marriage in Minnesota’s Constitution to a statewide vote in 2012.

“You’re saying that we should enshrine different treatment for different people in our constitution. To me that’s the definition of discrimination,” said Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.

DFL lawmakers called the gay marriage amendment divisive and destructive. Republicans decided not to comment during the committee except the bill’s author.

“I’m a little puzzled why we’re afraid to let Minnesotans decide this,” said Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud.

Lawmakers didn’t take public comments on the gay marriage amendment but that didn’t stop opponents from speaking out.

“My children deserve better than this. Minnesota deserves better than this,” yelled one woman who refused to stop shouting so she was dragged out by security.

The procedural committee vote could put the marriage amendment in front of the full House as early as Thursday. The state Senate has already passed the amendment, and gay marriage supporter Gov. Mark Dayton has no authority to block it from the ballot.

The governor said he opposes outlawing gay marriage in the Minnesota Constitution “with every fiber of my being” and believes an amendment to do so will be defeated if it ends up on the statewide ballot.

Dayton said he thinks Minnesotans have more “compassion and understanding” than supporters of the ban realize.

“It hurtful to me to see families have to look their kids in the eye and say there are people out there who hate us because of who we are and that’s not fair,” said Amanda Yanchury, an opponent of the amendment.

“Marriage has been between one man and one woman and has worked only for the betterment of society, not for the disintegration of society,” said Wanda Baklov, supporter of the amendment.

Kelly is the second House Republican to publicly signal opposition to the gay marriage amendment. The other is freshman Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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