ST. PAUL (AP) - A gay marriage ban has cleared a House panel as Republican lawmakers move the proposal closer to next year's ballot.

The potential constitutional amendment passed the House Civil Law Committee on Monday on a 10-7 party-line vote after winning approval from a Senate panel last week.

The bill's prospects have improved this year under Republican control of the Legislature. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton doesn't have the authority to block it.

If passed by both legislative chambers, the bill would ask 2012 voters whether to define marriages solely as unions of one man and one woman.

State law already prohibits gay marriage, but supporters say the bill would keep courts or politicians from redefining marriage.

Opponents say the move would enshrine discrimination against gay relationships.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)