ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -

A former top aide to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty says Minnesota GOP legislators should back legalized gay marriage or risk alienating young voters.

Brian McClung, who was deputy chief of staff to Pawlenty, declared his support Wednesday night for making same-sex marriage legal. McClung made his case in a Star Tribune commentary piece but also spoke with The Associated Press.

McClung says by resisting gay marriage the GOP is ignoring a generational gap on the issue, where younger voters are increasingly approving of it. McClung says he consulted with Pawlenty before making his announcement. But he says the last Republican governor still believes marriage should remain between one man and one woman. Pawlenty didn't immediately respond to an e-mail.

Votes on the marriage bill are nearing and will likely be tight.