Joining hands outside the empty office of Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a small group prayed that Minnesota will not join the ranks states with constitutional bans on gay marriage.

"My special prayer is for my son Bret and his partner Jim," said Linda Slattengren of St. Paul. "They have been in a committed relationship for near a decade, as long or longer than my other two heterosexual kids have been married. So they're embedded in our family and we want them to be able to celebrate that commitment in the same way we celebrated the commitment of his sister and brother."

She came to the Legislature, she said, to drive home the message that "all people have value and have the right to have love." Zellers was out of the office and missed the noon event.

"I'm a lifelong resident of St. Paul and Minnesota and I never thought this would happen here. I thought we were bigger and better than that level of discrimination," Slattengren said. "I'm very saddened by it."

Minnesota state law already defines marriage as the union of a man and woman. Supporters of the amendment that will appear on the November ballot argue that that believe should be enshrined in the state constitution, so neither judges nor future Legislatures could change it.

Last month, Minneapolis-area Lutherans became the largest faith group to come out in opposition to the marriage amendment. A delegation of Catholic bishops met with Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday, but his spokeswoman said the conversation focused less on controversial issues like gay marriage -- which the church opposes -- and more on common ground issues like poverty, health care and social justice.