Republicans fight anti-gay marriage measure
ST. PAUL - Some well-known Minnesota Republicans announced Thursday that they will fight the proposed anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, a proposal their party strongly supports.
"I'm Republican because I believe in individual liberty and freedom," Rep. John Kriesel said. "I believe this is an attack on that."
The Cottage Grove lawmaker famously was one of four state House Republicans to vote last May against putting the issue on the November 2012 ballot. He and the other Republicans said Thursday the state Constitution should not be amended with such a provision.
"I am against adding things to the Constitution willy nilly," Kriesel said.
The best known Republican to say he will fight the amendment is 85-year-old Wheelock Whitney, who long has been a visible GOP supporter and has run for statewide office. On Thursday, the businessman announced he donated $10,000 to defeat the amendment and will solicit more contributions.
Whitney, who has a gay son and a gay grandson, said there is nothing in his Republican bones to support banning a marriage. Other Republicans fighting the amendment agreed that the party is big enough to allow both points of view.
Kriesel, who faced some conservative criticism for his vote against the amendment, said party and legislative GOP leaders have not complained to him. And if they do complain, he said, "I don't care because the fight is worth it."
Minnesota Republican Chairman Tony Sutton said that political debate is healthy, but the party supports the proposed amendment.
"The Republican Party of Minnesota is a true grassroots organization and the party platform reflects the views and values of the majority of Republicans elected by their neighbors in communities throughout Minnesota," Sutton said.
The chairman said the amendment would "bring some finality to the issue by bringing it to a vote by the people of Minnesota."
A gay marriage ban already is in state law, but many political conservatives want it in the Constitution to make it impossible for judges to void.
Kriesel received statewide publicity in May when he said he fought in Iraq, losing both legs, for freedoms that included the right for gays to marry.
On Thursday, the freshman representative said he hopes the expensive amendment campaign does not become a distraction from more important issues. He said he will do whatever opponents need him do to defeat the amendment.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.