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Gay marriage ban gets hearing at state Senate

ST. PAUL — A cross section of religious leaders, advocacy group representatives and even the parents of a fallen soldier have weighed in on a bill that aims to ban gay marriage in Minnesota's Constitution.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard two hours of dueling testimony and was deciding Friday whether to advance the measure. A House committee takes its first look on Monday.

It's been five years since the Senate panel held a hearing on a gay marriage ban. But Republicans newly in control of the Legislature are again pushing to put the question before statewide voters in 2012.

Minnesota law already bans gay marriage but those pushing the constitutional ban say it would guard against judicial decisions. Democratic critics of the new effort say it's a distraction from the state's budget problems.

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