Minnesota Representative Karen Clark, one of two openly gay lawmakers serving in the Minnesota House, on Saturday pleaded with lawmakers considering a gay marriage ban to let her marry in Minnesota.

After roughly five hours of often emotional debate, House members voted 70 to 62 in favor of Republican Representative Steve Gottwalt's amendment, which seeks to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the Minnesota Constitution, sending it to voters for their approval during next year's general election. Minnesota currently bans such unions by law, but supporters say it remains vulnerable to legal challenges without the amendment.

Four Republicans – Tim Kelly, John Kriesel, Rich Murray and Steve Smith – joined all but two Democrats – Denise Dittrich and Lyle Koenen – in voting against the measure.

Clark spoke of her 22-year relationship with her partner Jacqueline, and implored House members to allow them to marry in her home state.

“Until this last election, I though my partner and I might be able to be one of the early couples to enjoy the rights of marriage by a law getting passed and signed in Minnesota. But that possibility has changed, at least for now,” Clark said.

“And since my dad has become so ill, I have for the first time thought of taking a trip to Iowa, where gay marriage is legal. So that he could still be part of a celebration for me and my partner. Maybe we will do it on his 95th birthday in June,” Clark said, referring to her partner's father.

“But I beg you colleagues, please don't make me go off to Iowa. I was raised in Minnesota. I'm a child of Minnesota,” she added.