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Same-sex marriage referendum bill passes House committee

Grand Rapids, Minn. — (AP) - A Minnesota House committee has approved a measure that would allow Minnesotans to vote on amending the state Constitution to ban gay marriage. The Civil Law and Elections Committee voted 7-to-5 along party lines, with Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposing it. The bill now goes to another House panel before it reaches the floor for a vote.

The panel held a four-hour hearing at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids. About 400 people packed into the center's auditorium to hear debate.

Representatives of each side had an hour to present their case. Professors, lawyers, ministers and citizens gave their points of view.

Supporters of the bill say Minnesotans should have a chance to decide whether marriage should be defined in the state's constitution as a union between a man and a woman. Opponents note that marriage between a man and a woman is already part of state law and that a constitutional amendment isn't neccesary.