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Same-sex marriage debate grows

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ST. PAUL -- Advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate say they are making progress and will continue to reach out to voters before Minnesotans cast ballots on the issue Nov. 6.

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A proposed constitutional amendment voters would define marriage as between a man and a woman, outlawing same-sex marriage. It already is illegal in Minnesota, but putting the provision in the Constitution would make that more difficult to change.

As the election approaches, both sides are ramping up efforts and focusing on communities.

Gov. Mark Dayton told hundreds who oppose the amendment gathered at state Capitol Thursday he thinks the proponents' campaign will be "destructive," but said he hoped Minnesotans could come together to be the first state faced with the amendment to defeat it.

"I think Minnesota is better than that," he said.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, encouraged those at the rally to spread their message through conversations and discussions within their communities.

Dibble, who is gay, said those in favor of the amendment are "not interested in civil discussion," but such efforts would be more likely to sway voters.

Amendment supporters have been taking a similar approach.

Chuck Darrell, spokesman for Minnesota for Marriage, said outreach efforts have been going well so far and the group has been "especially pleased with the enthusiastic response."

Minnesotans across the spectrum of race, age and religion have joined the group's efforts, he said.

"In fact, we're particularly proud of the diverse support we're receiving," he said. "A number of Minnesotans are standing up to say marriage needs to be preserved in our Constitution where activist judges and politicians can't meddle with it."

The group has been conducting pledge drives, running a call center and traveling around the state to speak in different communities. It also has been producing short videos answering key questions on why supporters back the amendment.

Efforts will only increase as the election approaches, both sides promised.

Bruce Ause of Red Wing said he and his wife, Kathy, joined the local the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays group when his daughter came out and have since been "fighting for fairness and equality for all families."

Speaking before the crowd on the Capitol lawn, he said members of the Red Wing community have been pitching in to fight the amendment, and PFLAG has been recruiting volunteers and holding informational events.

Ause thanked Republican Reps. Tim Kelly of Red Wing and John Kriesel of Cottage Grove for deviating from their party and voting against the amendment when it was before the Legislature last year.

"We are confident Minnesota can make history by being the first state in the country to defeat this attempt to enshrine discrimination in our Constitution," Ause told a cheering crowd.

More information on the gay-marriage issue is available at:

• www.minnesotaformarriage.com

• mnunited.org

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