Gay marriage ban sidelined
ST. PAUL -- Cathy Peck held up a picture of her two children when they were young and asked: "Can you tell which one is straight and which one is gay?"...
ST. PAUL -- Cathy Peck held up a picture of her two children when they were young and asked: "Can you tell which one is straight and which one is gay?"
Choking back tears, Peck, and her husband, Wally, told a Minnesota Senate committee that it was tough on them when as a high school senior their daughter told them she was a lesbian.
"We were forced to face our own fears, our own bigotries," she said.
Added Wally Peck: "Which of your children would you chose to be homosexual? Which one would you chose to be heterosexual?"
The Bemidji couple, who became parents when they lived near Moorhead, delivered some of the most emotional testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee eventually voted 5-4 against an altered proposal to put a gay marriage ban into the state Constitution. The original bill would give voters a chance to decide if the Constitution should define marriage as being between a man and a woman. However, on a 5-4 vote it was amended to allow the Legislature to define marriage, without the fear that judges would overturn its decision. That amended version then lost.
Usually, a vote like the committee took Tuesday would all but end a bill's chances.
However, Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, is expected to try to bring her proposed constitutional amendment up again this month or next.
The House passed the ban last year and several bills have been introduced that could be used to attempt to force the Senate to take a vote on the concept.
Opponents and supporters overflowed the Senate's largest committee room, with many watching on closed circuit television in other rooms. More than 225 people were in the Capitol to watch. It has been one of the hottest issues in the past few legislative sessions.
Bachmann said states all around Minnesota have or are considering passing constitutional amendments against gay marriages. Man-woman marriage must be protected from judges, she said.
"This is a race between lawsuits and amendments," Bachmann said.
"The question always has been and will remain, who will make the decision: Will it be millions of Minnesotans or will it be four judges?" Bachmann asked. "Will we squelch the voice of the people?"