Republican state lawmakers announced on Tuesday they would introduce a constitutional amendment to the Minnesota Senate to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

"The proposed constitutional amendment asks voters to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman in Minnesota," Minnesota Senator Warren Limmer (R) said in a statement. "This issue constantly comes up during legislative sessions and it’s time for the people to decide."

The Minnesota Constitution requires that a proposed amendment be approved by both chambers of the state's legislature and then ratified by a majority of voters in a general election.

"Allowing a small number of politicians, or activist judges in St. Paul to decide the definition of marriage would not be acceptable," he added. "We propose an early passage in the legislature this year, followed by a year discussion in our communities statewide in order to be prepared to vote in next year’s General Election."

Republican state Senators Paul Gazelka and Senator David Hann also said that the legislation would allow voters in Minnesota to decide the issue.

Same sex marriage is already banned by a statute passed by the state's legislature in 1997 and upheld by the state Supreme Court. The state does not recognize same sex civil unions, but some cities do have domestic partnership registries.

"It’s disturbing that Republicans want to use one of the last weeks of the legislative session to marginalize one group of people and divide our state," said Democratic state Senator Scott Dibble. "Minnesotans who are married legally have access to at least 515 laws that provide security, legal protections, and basic rights such as the ability to care for each other. As lawmakers, we should be focused on breaking these barriers that still exist for thousands of Minnesotans, rather than further isolating one group of people and wasting taxpayers’ time with unfounded fears."

Similar constitutional amendments were introduced to the Minnesota House and Senate in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

[H/T: Joe.My.God]