Panel defeats gay marriage ban: Bill forbidding judges from defining marriage OK'd
ST. PAUL -- A same-sex marriage ban survives in the Minnesota Legislature, but only barely. The Senate Judiciary Committee Friday defeated a proposal 5-4 to let Minnesotans ban gay marriages. However, it turned around minutes later and approved 5...
ST. PAUL -- A same-sex marriage ban survives in the Minnesota Legislature, but only barely.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Friday defeated a proposal 5-4 to let Minnesotans ban gay marriages. However, it turned around minutes later and approved 5-4 another bill that may keep the issue alive.
"At some point, we are going to deal with it on the floor" of the Senate, Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, said after more than four hours of debate.
The measure Betzold's committee defeated was the same one the House passed 88-42 Wednesday. It would put a constitutional amendment proposal banning gay marriages before Minnesotans in the Nov. 2 general election.
The issue remains alive in another constitutional amendment proposal Betzold offered. It forbids judges from defining marriage.
Sen. Michele Bachmann said she won't give up on a gay marriage ban.
"It will take a miracle," the Stillwater Republican said. "I believe in miracles."
Witnesses didn't say much about miracles, but they talked about many other aspects of religion. Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic clergy testified.
"This is what makes America right," the Rev. John Thomas told committee members, holding up a Revised Standard Version of the Bible. "This is what makes America good."
Thomas and other Bachmann supporters said the Bible terms gay relationships as sinful.
Victoria Safford of the Unitarian Universalist Church said outdated ideas such as slavery and polygamy the Bible appears to accept "could only be considered inappropriate today."
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, agreed some Biblical teachings are outdated. For instance, he said, the Bible advocates killing adulterers.
"If we put to death anyone who has committed adultery, we would have a lot of dead people," the one-time governor candidate said.
Marty said religious beliefs are "so important that government shouldn't be interfering with them."
But Bachmann said judges are overstepping their authority when they allow gay marriages.
A Somali immigrant, Yaqub Mahamad, said those court actions remind him of his homeland.
"We are basically tired of previous governments telling us how to believe," he said.
Bachmann said she will try to change the surviving Betzold bill to look like her measure. However, Betzold said he won't allow that.
Betzold's hastily written proposal calls for a constitutional amendment that gives only the Legislature power to define a marriage. Bachmann said gay marriages could be approved under it and the public would not have a vote on the definition.
Betzold said he won't press for a hearing in the Rules Committee, which must approve the proposal before it reaches the full Senate.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707