A House committee Monday approved 10-7 a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage.
While state law already defines a marriage as being between one man and one woman, proponents want the provision in the Constitution because it is more difficult to change than a law.
Law professor Dale Carpenter of the University of Minnesota, calling himself a conservative Republican, argued in the Civil Law Committee against the amendment, saying it could â€œignite a new round in the culture war. … We should not be starting fires in Minnesota; we should be putting them out together.â€
An expensive advertising campaign for and against the amendment, which would be on the 2012 ballot, would waste money that should be spent on â€œour pressing needs,â€ Carpenter said.
Those who like the amendment, however, said God supports a one-man, one-woman marriage definition.
The Rev. Per Nilsen of Rosemount and Hastings Lutheran churches said that is a â€œclear definition in the Bible.â€
â€œThe impact on religious freedom will be very real,â€ Nilsen added.
Bishop Paul Sirba of the Duluth Diocese said that other religions than Christianity oppose gay marriage.
However, the bishop said, gays should have the right to live and love without discrimination. â€œPersons with same sex attractions are our sisters and brothers.â€
The amendment would take the gay-marriage decision out of legislatorsâ€™ hands.
â€œThe time has come for society to decide the future of marriage,â€ Sirba said.
Bruce Ause of Red Wing, who has a lesbian daughter, said that the state must â€œprotect all Minnesotans equally,â€ but the proposed amendment is â€œone of dividing and conquering.â€
Jeff Wilfahrt of Rosemount, whose gay son died in Iraqi fighting, said supporters of the amendment â€œmarch lockstep with a denial of reason.â€ He said veterans and those still in the military are â€œnot going to take kindlyâ€ to denying a groupâ€™s civil rights.
The proposed amendment also is progressing through the Senate.