Groups start preparing for 2012 ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage

Supporters and opponents of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage are now organizing with the hopes that their message will be the one to sway voters in the 2012 election.

The Minnesota House voted in favor of the measure over the weekend so voters in the 2012 election will now determine whether the state’s constitution should be amended to define marriage “as between one man and one woman.”

Both sides say they’re preparing for a media campaign that could cost several million dollars. State law already bans same sex marriage but supporters of the amendment worry a court will overturn that law.

Tom Prichard, with the Minnesota Family Council, says supporters of the amendment will work to tell voters to protect what he calls the “institution of marriage.”

“This is about the institution of marriage and why it’s fundamental to society,” Prichard said. “This is not changing state law in any way. It’s basically protecting our existing law in the constitution.”

Critics of the amendment say they believe the measure would put discrimination into the state constitution.

Ann Kaner-Roth with the GLBT rights group, Project 515, says she expects millions of dollars will be spent on paid media like radio and TV ads. She said she’s confident that Minnesota will be the first state to defeat a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“We are now moving in the direction of creating an environment where the majority of the electorate is voting on the rights of the minority and that is not what the constitution is meant for,” Kaner-Roth said.

The constitution would be amended if a majority of those voting in the 2012 election vote in favor of the question.

31 states have passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Arizona is the only state where voters defeated an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and any legal equivalent. But voters later approved the amendment after the wording was changed to remove the words “any legal equivalent.”

Minnesota’s proposal would not ban such legal equivalents like civil unions.

(MPR’s Rupa Shenoy contributed to this report)

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