Same-sex marriage opponents warned Minnesotans that religious liberty will not be protected if the Legislators legalize gay marriage this year.

"In New York, we were promised that the religious freedom amendment to our same-sex marriage legislation would do the job," said the Rev. Jason McGuire, president of New Yorker's Family Research Foundation. "Our legislators bought the lie and today every New Yorker is living the lie."

Minnesota for Marriage brought several town officials from New York, where same-sex marriage is legal, who argue they had to resign rather than be forced to process marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples even though it was against their religious beliefs. The group says the religious protections in the Minnesota proposal are completely inadequate, leaving business owners and religious groups wide open to lawsuits if they fail to embrace same-sex marriage.

Minnesota for Marriage held the news conference as legislators are weighing a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage this year. Dozens of supporters stuffed into the small conference room, many holding signs that read: "Don't erase moms and dads from MN public policy."

The group has been doing much of its lobbying behind-the-scenes, but on Monday they decided to take the issue statewide. The measure could come up for a final vote this week.

Religious institutions will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings or host receptions, said Javen Swanson, faith director of Minnesotans United, which is lobbying to pass same-sex marriage.

"The legislation ... provides some of the most expansive religious protections of any such law in the country," Swanson said. The measure "will allow all faiths and religious institutions in Minnesota the freedom to practice their religious beliefs, free from government intrusion."

Gay marriage opponents say the other side has misrepresented its motives to Minnesotans dating back to last year's unsuccessful campaign to pass a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Minnesota for Marriage argued for more than a year that the measure was necessary to prevent the other side from legalizing same-sex marriage. They say the other side's argument often hinged on the argument the measure wasn't necessary because same-sex marriage was already illegal in state law.

"Now we are here today having to defend that very law," said Autumn Leva, a spokesperson for Minnesota for Marriage.

The Rev. Richard Coleman, head of the nonprofit group Servant Leaders Support, said he resented same-sex marriage advocates saying this is a civil rights issue.

Americans of African descent were brought to the country as slaves and treated as property, he said.

"It's not a matter of preference or proclivity," he said. Comparing the African-American experience to same-sex marriage "is an abomination."