Law profs decry gay marriage ban bill

The professors sent a letter asking lawmakers to end the marriage amendment effort.

Kyle Potter

A large group of professors from the University of Minnesota Law School sent a letter urging state legislators to stop pursuing a bill that would put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the 2012 ballot.

In the letter, signed by 63 current and retired law school faculty, the professors wrote that the proposed amendment âÄúwould set in constitutional cement the existing hardships on thousands of families, including children, that many in the legal profession serveâÄù at a time when other problems are much more pressing.

The bill would tack an amendment on ballots in 2012, giving Minnesota voters a permanent choice on whether or not unions other than of one man and one woman would be recognized.

âÄú[It] will likely generate litigation over both its validity and its scope; in effect, the legislature is inviting significant and needless expense for the state and its citizens during a time of extraordinary economic difficulty,âÄù the letter reads.

Gay marriage is already banned in Minnesota through legislation, but a constitutional amendment would make the ban much harder to reverse.

The letter goes on to state that Minnesota has never âÄúcut short the ordinary legislativeâÄù process when it comes to family law by âÄúenshrining one particular view into its constitution. There is no compelling need to do so now.âÄù

Myron Orfield, one of the petitioners, said civil rights professor Dale Carpenter spearheaded the letter.

Richard Frase, one of the participants, said the letter has âÄúbeen in discussion for the last couple of days.âÄù

âÄúWhen itâÄôs written by a bunch of law professors, we had carefully examined what we wanted to say, and the letter should speak for itself,âÄù said Frase, who would not comment further.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, introduced the constitutional amendment, which  would define marriage as between a man and woman, on April 27.

The proposed amendment passed through the Senate Judiciary and public safety committee Monday.

âÄîKate Raddatz contributed to this report.