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Published April 29, 2011, 04:20 PM

MN Senate Committee Passes Gay Marriage Ban

A Minnesota Senate committee has passed a bill that would let voters next year decide whether to ban gay marriage in Minnesota's constitution.

By: Patrick Condon, Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota Senate committee has passed a bill that would let voters next year decide whether to ban gay marriage in Minnesota's constitution.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill 8-4 Friday with all Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The vote came after two hours of testimony and an hour-long debate between senators.

Gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota law but the amendment would give voters the choice of locking it into the state constitution. Similar bills died in the state Senate numerous times in past years, but Republicans newly in charge of the Legislature are making a new push.

Democrats argued the bill reflects a narrow religious agenda that doesn't belong in the state Constitution and that a months-long, divisive debate will distract from more important issues.

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