MINNEAPOLIS (BP)--A Minnesota state judge has upheld the state's traditional marriage law and refused to legalize "gay marriage."

The ruling by District Judge Mary Dufresne will be appealed but is nevertheless a big win for supporters of the current Minnesota law which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

District Judge Mary Dufresne, the Star-Tribune reported, said the law does not violate the due process, equal protection, religious freedom and freedom of association rights of homosexual couples. A homosexual group called Marry Me Minnesota brought the case.

Significantly, Dufresne cited a 1971 case -- Baker v. Nelson -- that made its way to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Both high courts rejected legal arguments for "gay marriage."

Traditionalists in the state are pushing the new Republican-controlled legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining marriage as between one man and one woman. If Minnesota had such an amendment -- as do 29 states -- there would no possibility for the suit to succeed.

"This, coupled with several bills introduced in the Legislature last year to legalize same-sex marriage, is why we need to protect marriage with a marriage amendment," Chuck Darrell, communications director for the Minnesota Family Council, told The Star-Tribune.

PASTORS PRESSURE MD. LEGISLATURE -- A coalition of Maryland pastors, many of them from predominantly black churches, is pressuring the Maryland House not to pass a bill legalizing "gay marriage," The Washington Post reported. More than a dozen pastors from Prince George's County lobbied members of the House of Delegates Tuesday. If the bill passes the House, it will go to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has pledged to sign it. At least two African American delegates have switched from supporting the bill to opposing it. The final vote, which could take place Thursday or Friday, likely will be close.

Opposition from black churches and the Catholic Church has been critical in raising opposition to the bill.

Bishop Paul Wells of New Revival Kingdom Church of Capitol Heights, Md., said the Bible is clear on the issue.

"The Bible says is an abomination before God," Wells told The Post. "God created the institution of marriage and made marriage between a man and a woman. People ask me all the time, 'Would you marry a gay couple?' Absolutely not. I make that perfectly clear. ... I welcome those who are homosexual into the church the same way I welcome liars and fornicators. But the expectation is that the word of God will change them once they get in. ... God gave us free will, and so you are either against God's word or for God's word. There is no in between."

Jonathan L. Weaver, pastor of Greater Mount Nebo AME Church in Bowie, Md., said about half of the 150 members of the Collective Empowerment Group -- a group of D.C.-area pastors -- gathered March 4 for an opinion vote on the bill. All of them opposed it.

"It was a unanimous vote," Weaver said. "There was not one in that room who stood for that bill."

If the bill passes and becomes law, Maryland citizens would be able to gather signatures and place the issue on the 2012 ballot. The law would not go into effect during that time.

KANSAS HOUSE PASSES PRO-LIFE BILLS -- Pro-life advocates in Kansas gained passage of two important bills in hopes of advancing them to new pro-life Republican Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature.

The House voted 91-30 Feb. 24 for a bill that would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks gestation because of the unborn baby's apparent ability to feel pain at that stage. Representatives also approved in a 96-25 roll call a measure that includes provisions requiring parental consent for a minor's abortion, reforming judicial bypass procedures and barring abortion fraud.

"We are ecstatic that the House has acted to pass these bills, which will insure that the abortion reporting fraud of the past decade is never repeated, will eliminate any rubber-stamp judicial approval of abortion for pregnant teens, and will bring updated medical evidence to bear in treating abortion as a barbaric, unacceptable act," said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of Kansans for Life.

Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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