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A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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Young Voters Could Be Key in MN Vote on Gay Marriage Ban

February 1, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesotans appear deeply divided about the upcoming vote on a gay-marriage ban, and the outcome could depend on turnout.

Young people care strongly about the issue, says political analyst Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota professor, and that could mean more voters at the polls than the normal 40 percent or 50 percent.

"We're talking about boosting a group that has a tendency to be fickle. So I think that the gay-marriage ban, which is intensely opposed by young voters, may end up turning out more young people than would ordinarily turn out."

According to figures released Tuesday, groups supporting the constitutional amendment which would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman have raised more than $1.2 million. That matches the donation amounts to the largest group fighting the amendment, Minnesotans United for All Families.

Jessie Kay, 18, of Plymouth will cast her first ballot this fall, and says she'll vote "no."

"I don't understand why a whole group of people is being treated unfairly based on genetic disposition. I think it's as simple as that. If two people love each other, they deserve to marry each other. ... Love is love."

She feels so strongly about the issue that she is organizing a fund raiser and awareness event this March in Hopkins, hoping to mobilize other young people.

Jessie's mother, Jane Kay, says she's extremely proud of her daughter. She notes that it's those too young to vote and the generations to follow who will feel the most impact of the decision Minnesotans make this fall.

"It seems pretty unfair that my generation has decided that we're going to change the constitution for future generations that don't even get a say in it."

Supporters of the change say amending the constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman will protect the sanctity of marriage. They also say this vote allows Minnesotans to decide the issue, not politicians or a court.

More information is online at mnunited.org and minnesotaformarriage.com.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN