Religious black voters in Minnesota have become a prized constituency in the fight over a proposed state amendment banning same sex marriage.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported Tuesday that conservative groups supporting Amendment 1 are recruiting black churchgoers in their efforts to add the amendment, which would define matrimony as being solely between a man and a woman, to existing legislation against same sex marriage.

Part of that push is the unveiling of billboards depicting a young heterosexual black couple alongside the phrase, "Marriage = One Man + One Woman" and urging voters to vote in favor of the amendment Nov. 6.

In response to the increased conservative push for black support, Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, flew into the state Monday to speak out against the amendment.

"The notion that this state would create an amendment to its constitution to revoke a human right should send a shudder down the spine of all of us," Jealous told the newspaper.

But while Jealous and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) say the definition of marriage should be kept away from legislative bodies, some religious leaders say it's not a political issue anymore.

"It's a spiritual issue in which we do believe and uphold what the word of God tells us, said Bishop Richard Howell, the pastor at Shiloh Temple International Ministries. "Certainly, we're not homophobic by any means. We understand the great divide here is Scripture and not politics."

Ellison, who is running for re-election, suggested the issue of equality cuts across church lines.

"At the end of the day, we say the Pledge of Allegiance and say, 'and liberty and justice for all,'" he said. "I am not aware of any exceptions at the end of that. It's for all. It's a hard period. Nobody is cut out of that."

A survey earlier this month by Public Policy Polling found 49 percent of state voters opposing the amendment, versus 46 percent favoring it, a four-point shift from last month favoring opponents.

["Minister giving sermon in church" by bikeriderlondon via Shutterstock]