A Minnesota Senate committee on Friday will hold a hearing on a resolution that seeks to constitutionally ban gay marriage in the state.

The Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety will hear from supporters and opponents of gay marriage starting at 12PM. Republican Senator Warren Limmer is the chair of the committee and the primary sponsor of the amendment.

If approved, voters would be asked in 2012 to decide on the definition of marriage. Minnesota state law already outlaws gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

Republicans have pared down the language of this year's amendment, which, unlike previous proposals, does not address legal equivalents to marriage. The change leaves open the possibility that future lawmakers could approve civil unions or other forms of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples.

“The language that we are proposing today doesn't do anything except say this is what we mean by marriage,” said Senator David Hann, a co-sponsor of the amendment. “In past years, there may have been desires to do other things.”

Republicans won control of both chambers of the Legislature on November 2, dashing the hopes of gay marriage supporters who believed the state was poised to become the sixth in the nation to legalize the institution.

While Democratic Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has pledged his support for gay marriage, his OK isn't needed to place the question on the ballot.

In January, the Christian conservative group Minnesota Family Council pledged to spend $4.71 million over the next two years to see the measure adopted.