US: Minnesota lawmaker under fire for ‘close friend’ who left the ‘gay lifestyle’ comment

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A lawmaker opposed to equal marriage in Minnesota has come under fire for using a procedural tactic to introduce a “close friend” who left the “gay lifestyle”, during  proceedings around the subject of equal marriage.

Representative Glenn Gruenhagen introduced his “close friend” Kevin Peterson, just one day ahead of the debate over legalising equal marriage hits its first hearing in the House and Senate.

On introducing Peterson, he said: “He was active in the gay lifestyle for about 10 years. And then he left it, got married and he now has three children.”

Gruenhagen also caused controversy when he said two weeks ago that legalising marriage equality would strengthen what he said was the false notion that homosexuality was biological and not a “lifestyle choice”.

Not only did he say that homosexuality was a choice, he went on to say that it was a form of “sexual addiction.”

“There is no gay gene, OK? The concept that you’re born that way and it’s an immutable characteristic is an unscientific lie,” Gruenhagen said.

The state representative’s use of the “points of personal privilege” has caused House Speaker Paul Thissen to limit members’ use of the strategy, reports TwinCities.

Thissen said: “It’s really gotten out of the hand over the last several sessions… From now on we’re not going to be recognizing groups, we’re not going to be recognizing family and friends on the House floor, you can do that in another format.”

Majority leader Erin Murphy said members can give their point of view in debate, but went on to say that Gruenhagen abused the platform on Monday.

In November 2012, Minnesotan voters avoided a constitutional ban on marriage equality, and pro-equality campaigners have since stepped up efforts to push for equal marriage to be legalised. 

A group opposed to equal marriage in the state has pledged half a million dollars to defeat any Republican legislator voting to legalise marriage equality.

On 6 Novemnber, voters in Minnesota voted ‘no’ on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as being a union solely between a man and a woman.

WashingtonMaine and Maryland legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states on the same day.