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Minnesota marriage amendment headed to Senate floor

A bill that proposes a ban on gay marriage on the 2012 ballot passed the Senate Rules Committee on Friday morning and will now head to the Senate floor for a full vote. During brief testimony, DFLers on the committee raised concerns about rushing the passage of such a contentious measure this year and about its possible unintended consequences for same-sex couples.

“This isn’t something that we have to do this year,” Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “We don’t have a vote until next year. This is a very controversial constitutional amendment, and we have a limited amount of time before the session is going to be over.”

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said he was concerned that gay marriage might become legal soon.

“There is a reason; as you know the definition of marriage is a very personal one,” he said. “There is a court case that is pending regarding the definition of marriage. They were dismissed in court and they have avowed publicly that they are going to a higher court.”

He added, “That creates a sense of expediency for the Legislature to act.”

Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, wondered about problems the amendment would cause problems given the number of states that already allow same-sex marriage. For instance, he said, what would happen if a same-sex couple married in Vermont divorced, move to Minnesota, and had a legal wrangling over property from the marriage.

Limmer’s witness, University of St. Thomas law professor Teresa Collett, said that the Minnesota courts would be able to sort that out.

Sen. Cohen, who is an attorney and has worked on family law, said he thought that was not accurate.

The amendment passed the committee by a voice vote.

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