The Minnesota House approved a constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman Saturday night, giving voters a chance to ratify the proposed amendment in 2012.
The Minnesota House voted 70 to 62 to pass the same sex marriage ban. The state's Senate approved the proposed constitutional amendment by a 38 to 27 vote.
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.
The amendment is expected to spark 18 months of debate over same sex marriages in Minnesota. Those opposed to the amendment have already launched their campaign against it, Minnesotans United for All Families.
“This session, the Republican majority has proven they’d rather focus on the politics of distraction than the serious issues facing the state," Senator Scott Dibble (D) said in a statement. "They made it clear they were going to push forward with this irrational attack on Minnesota families, despite the objections of thousands of citizens and business leaders across the state.”
While the amendment was being debated in a Minnesota Senate Committee, Scott Simon of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party gave an impassioned speech against it, which became an Internet sensation.
"Ask yourself, if it’s true that sex orientation is innate, is God-given, then what does it mean to the moral force of your argument?” he asked.
"To put it in the vernacular, what I would ask is, ‘How many more people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around? How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish as long as they don’t harm others is Godly, holy, happy, glorious. thing.’"
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.
"The proposed constitutional amendment asks voters to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman in Minnesota," state Senator Warren Limmer (R), who introduced the amendment, said in a statement. "This issue constantly comes up during legislative sessions and it’s time for the people to decide."
Similar constitutional amendments were introduced to the Minnesota House and Senate in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
On Friday, Minnesota Republicans invited Bradlee Dean, an evangelist preacher and death metal drummer who is known for his anti-gay rhetoric, to deliver an opening prayer in the state House chamber.