Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and McKenzie Martin
While a House committee was approving a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on party lines Monday, Republican Rep. John Kriesel was a few floors up explaining his opposition to the measure.
"I look at it as: We are all equal," said the first year representative from Cottage Grove.
"It is not right. I can't do it. I'm very upset about this vote. I don't like it. I think it sends the wrong message. You live once in your life and I've learned that the hard way," said the military veteran, who lost his legs while serving in Iraq
Afghanistan. "You never know when it is going to be your time. People fight to find happiness....You find someone you love and now other people are saying because I don't consider that normal, you can't do it?"
"It's just wrong," Kriesel said. "There is not anything that can move me on this."
He may be only Republican lawmaker to oppose the amendment. He said he is "working hard" to bring other colleagues along.
His position won no support from Republicans Monday, when a House committee took its first vote on the constitutional amendment.
The amendment to define gay marriage as between one man and one women passed through the House civil law committee with a 10-7 vote that fell right along party lines.
Arguments for the amendment centered mainly on religion, while those against it emphasized the distinction between church and state.
“It’s not simply a religious tradition, but also a human tradition,” said Rabbi Moshe Feller of St. Paul.
Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, spoke against the bill.
“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around,” Rep. Simon asked, resulting in cheers from the audience and a shout of “Amen.”
University of St. Thomas law professor Teresa Collett compared the gay marriage amendment to the state defining who is eligible to vote. “This amendment proposed would simply allow the voters of this state to define who is eligible to marry in this state,” she said. “It does not … write discrimination into the State Constitution.”
But University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter disagreed.
“As a matter of law and as a matter of public policy, this proposed amendment will not help one single family in Minnesota but it will hurt many families,” he said.
The bill was moved to the House Ways and Means committee.