Protesters are back outside the Minnesota House chamber in full volume today, in a chanting battle over the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
House leaders haven’t said when it might come up for a vote, and the House Rules Committee just recessed without putting it on today’s calendar. Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, says the committee may consider the matter later.
But one of the few House Republicans who openly opposes the idea thought it might be today.The matter is expected to split mostly along party lines, as it did when it passed earlier in the Senate.
“I trust my gut,” said Rep. John Kriesel, of Cottage Grove, who is one of two GOP members who have opposed the measure already. Tim Kelly of Red Wing is the other.
“This could go down today, and that’s what I’m hoping for,” Kriesel said. “There’s a lot of people that think the timing is wrong. There’s a lot of people that don’t want to deal with it. But I don’t think the timing is ever right, because I think it’s the wrong thing to do.”
Kriesel spoke, though, while the controversy over the prayer offered by Bradlee Dean was still percolating through the House, and before Kurt Zellers denounced the prayer in a statement and apologized on the House floor.
But that still leaves the same-sex marriage amendment up in the air.
Second term Rep. Tim Sanders, R- Blaine, said he supports putting same sex marriage on the state ballot, but has other priorities.
“I think the focus really should be on the budget. That’s what the folks sent us all here to focus on,” Sanders said.
But he too hinted that the same sex marriage amendment may play into budget negotiations.
“In our opinion, we have passed a balanced budget. It’s up to the governor what he wants to do and his timeline,” Sanders said after the House adjourned Thursday night. “So we’re in a wait and see mode right now, and a negotiation mode with the governor. So until he give us some direction on some actual tangible steps we can take to meet in the middle, I think everything’s fair game.”
Freshman Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, was elusive about the subject. Asked this morning if she would support putting the amendment on the ballot, she wouldn’t commit either way. “I have my concerns,” she said. She said she wanted to hear floor debate on the matter.
House members are privately debating whether the lack of floor action so far is a reflection of uncertainty whether the GOP caucus can muster the bloc of votes to approve.
Rep. Karen Clark, DFL- Minneapolis, the only openly lesbian member of the House, said she thinks the vote in the House will be more difficult than that in the Senate.
“There are members who feel torn, just agonizingly torn on the Republican side,” Clark said. “They don’t want to vote for this. They personally believe that its wrong. You know, people are crying about this. It’s a very emotional issue. People who fell that their conscience tells them that they should not support a constitutional amendment, but their party is telling them they must.”