ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Thirteen months before voters will see the issue on their ballots, the same-sex marriage debate is alive and well in Minnesota.
On Thursday, prominent Republicans came out in opposition to the measure that seeks to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman.
"I don't think neighbors should be voting on what neighbors can and can't do in the privacy of their own home," said State Rep. John Kriesel, a Republican from Cottage Grove.
Kriesel was joined by several other Republican leaders, including Wheelock Whitney, a former candidate for Governor and Senator who spoke against the amendment for both political and personal reasons.
"I have a gay son. I have a gay grandson. I love them. I'm proud of them, and I don't like to see them discriminated against in any way," Whitney said, adding that he'd already donated $10,000 to the cause.
But Thursday's news conference was more than just a show of opposition -- it also underscored the fact the same-sex marriage debate is definitely underway in Minnesota.
"It's going to be a big campaign. People are going to talk about it," said Richard Carlbom with Minnesotans United For All Families.
Carlbom and organizers of the pro-amendment effort both say the state-wide outreach has already begun.
"Getting thousands of volunteers to come alongside us, join the campaign, disseminate literature, write letters to the editors, get involved in a church, get people registered to vote," said Chuck Darrell with Minnesota for Marriage.
At this point, both sides can not yet predict how much money will be spent during the campaign in Minnesota. But it's clear the total will reach the millions. In 2008, the two sides debating the issue in California spent together more than $80 million.
Minnesota is the 30th state to consider a marriage amendment. All 29 previous states approved the amendment, banning legal recognition of same-sex unions to one degree or another.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)