Over the weekend the Minnesota Legislature passed a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in a 2012 ballot, would codify the existing statutory ban on same-sex marriage by placing discrimination in the Minnesota Constitution. Not all Republicans supported this action however, with Rep. John Kriesel (R-Cottage Grove) telling the state House that a near fatal experience during his military service changed his mind on gay marriage.
During his testimony, Kriesel said that being injured “woke” him up and changed him, adding: “Because of that, it’s made me think about this issue. And say, ‘You know what, what would I do without my wife?’ She makes me happy. Life is hard. We’re in a really tough time in our history. Happiness is so, so hard to find for people. So they find it, they find someone that makes them happy, and we want to take that person away. We want to say, ‘Oh no, you can be together, you can love that person, but you can’t marry them.’ You can’t marry them. That’s wrong.”
He goes on to say how he believes that the marriage amendment does not comport with the American values that he fought to protect. He also talks about a now deceased fellow servicemember who was gay and gave his life during military service.
Watch Kriesel’s testimony below:
The House advanced the marriage amendment in a 70-62 vote. Due to legislative rules, the amendment cannot be vetoed by the state governor and goes straight to the 2012 ballot. Nevertheless, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has vowed to fight the ban with “every fiber” of his being.
A recent poll suggests that 55% of Minnesotans surveyed do not want to enact a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. This is a change on a 2004 Minnesota Poll that found 58% of Minnesotans supported a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
It should also be noted that a significant number of the public identifying as either Republican or Independent have come out against the amendment, saying they find the constitutional amendment unnecessary given the existing ban, or that they believe codifying the ban amounts to an abridgment of liberty. Read more here.
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