ST. PAUL, Minnesota, May 19, 2011 ( – A constitutional amendment that would enshrine the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in Minnesota is one step closer to getting on the ballot.

The House Rules Committee narrowly approved the measure Wednesday in a 13 – 12 vote. The vote took place along party lines, with Republicans in favor, and Democrats against. However, one Republican, Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing), joined Democrats to oppose the amendment.

Although same-sex “marriage” is already illegal under Minnesota statutes, proponents of the constitutional amendment believe that it is necessary to prevent either the judiciary or the legislature from changing the definition of marriage.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud), the amendment’s House sponsor, told the committee that the amendment was not about taking away rights, but about anchoring more firmly existing law defining marriage.

“This is current state law. The desire is simply to put before the people, ‘Should we be more permanently placing it where politicians and judges cannot redefine it?’”

The Senate has already approved the measure, which would put the following question on the 2012 ballot: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”

The House is scheduled to have a floor vote Thursday at 3 p.m. If the GOP-dominated chamber passes the measure by a simple majority, then it will go before the people on the 2012 ballot for an up-or-down vote.

Although Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the ballot measure, he has no authority to block the amendment from going onto the ballot.

A simple majority of voters will have to vote “yes” in order for the amendment to pass.

Contact information for the Minnesota House of Representatives is available here.

The Minnesota legislature’s guide to effective constituent communication is here.