For the second time in four days, the booming chants of gay-rights advocates created a wall of sound Thursday afternoon in the Capitol rotunda, as they awaited a vote by the House on placing a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
This time, unlike Monday when they had the place to themselves, they surrounded a smaller number of amendment supported, who also chanted outside the House chamber.
"Just vote no!" bellowed the opponents.
"Let the people vote!" the supporters countered.
Both sides mobilized their troops on the belief that a vote by the full House was imminent, but it wasn't clear if the chamber was even going to take up the measure -- already passed by the Senate -- on Thursday.
"We heard rumors the vote would be today, so we showed up to tell the legislators that this is wrong," said Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, the state's largest advocacy group for gays and lesbians. "If they don't vote today, we'll be back tomorrow and the next day."
Hastings resident David Edmeier stood in the front row of the throng holding aloft a pro-amendment sign."This is our constitutional right -- to vote -- and it's in the Bible, too," he said. "I'm not against gay people or anything. I've got friends who are gay -- I've gone on picnics with them"
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, walked by the anti-amendment folks and shot them a thumbs-up. Kids on school tours of the Capitol snaked their way through the crowd, looking confused.
"It's our right and responsibility to decide these things in a democracy," said amendment supporter Dee Dee Larson, of Anoka. "I don't want the courts to decide this for us. Marriage is between a man and a woman, period."
She stood alongside Edie Walter, of Anoka, who said that unless the state constitution is amended, "we'll lose our families and society. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and marriage hasn't changed in 4,000 years. These people have spent the last 12 years trying to change that."
Amendment opponent Chance Lunning. of St. Paul, said he and his allies "are going to fight this tooth-and-nail, in the streets if we have to. I could see this coming down the pike when this Legislature was elected. So we've been getting ready."
Plymouth resident Johan Baumeister lived in California when voters there banned same-sex marriage. "I lost once already and I'm not going to lose again," he said. "What happens if may partner's son gets sick or I die and my homophobic family strips them of their rights? These people are trying to wreck my family."
Next to him was Robert Droddy, of Roseville. "I'm sick and tired of these hateful people," he said. "We may well lose today, but we're not going to lose next year."
Four hours after the rallies started, numbers on both sides had dwindled, but the chanting continued.
"Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right!"
"Let the people vote!"