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Minn. GOP lawmakers denounce effort to legalize same-sex marriage

Minn. GOP lawmakers denounce effort to legalize same-sex marriage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Just hours after a marriage equality bill was unveiled at the Minnesota state capitol, a group of Republican lawmakers are calling for its defeat.

Backers of the marriage equality bill said last fall’s defeat of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage shows the state of Minnesota is ready to legalize same-sex marriage.

But Republicans say voters only rejected putting the ban in the constitution, and that it shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement of gay marriage.

About 15 GOP lawmakers gathered for a press conference Wednesday to denounce the bill.

State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen said that homosexuality was a choice and that they should not be rewarded with the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. “The concept you are born that way is an unscientific lie.”

Referencing a decade-old genome study, Gruenhagen added: “There is no gay gene. The concept that there is a gay gene is an unscientific lie.”

State Sen. Dan Hall, a pastor, said he’d go to jail before presiding over a gay wedding ceremony.

The bill has an exemption that no church would be forced to perform or solemnize a same-sex union.

Earlier in the day, Democratic lawmakers formally launched a long-anticipated effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota by summer.

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The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat who married his partner in California four years ago, said that the bill’s simple aim is: “To allow folks who so desire who have demonstrated the lifetime of love and commitment to get married, even if they are a same sex couple.”

Dibble said he doesn’t know if he has the votes to pass the measure in the Democratic-led Legislature.

“I think we’re close. I don’t know if we’re there,” he said.

Republican Sen. Branden Petersen is the only member of his party to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill. Gov. Mark Dayton says he would sign the bill if it reaches him.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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