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State lawmaker's comments about friend exiting "gay lifestyle" causes House outcry

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans Updated: March 12, 2013 - 2:05 PM

Updated

Minnesota Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen caused an outcry on the House floor on Monday when he introduced a visiting friend who had exited the "gay lifestyle."

"He was active in the gay lifestyle for about ten years, and then he left it, got married and he now has three children," Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said.

Soon after he made the comment, the House shut down the sound from the floor session, which was near its conclusion. According to members who were on the floor at the time, some members were visibly outraged.

"It was a completely inappropriate statement to make on the House floor," House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said later. "I also think the content of his statement at that point in time in this legislative session was inappropriate in itself." 

He said he personally found the statement offensive.

Thissen also said that House members have used too much latitude in making end-of-floor-session's "points of personal privilege" and asked them to rein those in. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they approved of that Thissen instruction.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said: "Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen's comments today on the floor were inappropriate and it was not the proper use of a point of personal privilege."

Two weeks ago, Gruenhagen drew national attention for saying, in the context of his opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage, that homosexuality was "an unhealthy, sexual addiction" and that "there is no gay gene."

On Tuesday, the House and Senate will hold hearings on measures to legalize same-sex marriage. 

See Gruenhagen's comments from Monday's floor session here. He speaks around the 27 minute mark.

Update/clarification: Update/clarification: According to Thissen spokesman Michael Howard, although there was audio silence in the recording of the floor session immediately following Gruenhagen's statement, the House sound was not actively turned off. Instead, the silence occurred because no microphones were activated at that time.

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