by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Pat Anderson stood on the end of a line of supporters gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday (Feb. 27) to celebrate the dropping of same-sex marriage legislation into bill hoppers.
Former Republican state auditor, former committeewoman to the Republican National Committee, Anderson’s presence at the press conference was not missed.
“I believe this is an issue about freedom, liberty,” Anderson said to a growing crowd of reporters.
And it’s about family, she said, nodding to milling same-sex couples tending their restless children a short distance away.
Recently, Anderson has written and spoken out publicly about same-sex marriage and the meaning of being of Republican.
“The Republican Party is very divided,” Anderson said.
But Anderson views a younger, “liberty-wing” of the party in ascendency.
This wing — which Anderson argues took control of the Minnesota Republican State Convention last year — either supports same-sex marriage or views the whole issue as outside of the legitimate realm of government.
“The numbers are growing and growing all the time,” she said of the “liberty-wing.”
Anderson doesn’t believe the Republican Party can maintain opposition to same-sex marriage and remain a viable party.
Of her four voting-age children, all opposed the recent same-sex marriage amendment and some campaigned against it, Anderson said.
“Times have changed,” she said.
Anderson is not the only area Republican supporting same-sex marriage.
Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, will coauthor the legislation in the Senate.
Petersen did not attend the morning pro-legislation press conference.
In a statement, Petersen said as strong proponent of limited government, conservative principles and individual liberty, he proudly added his name to the legislation.
Anderson praised the Republican senator for his action.
“It takes guts to stand out,” she said.
That the Republican Party is divided on same-sex marriage was demonstrated at an afternoon State Capitol press conference of House and Senate Republicans.
“I personally will go to jail before I ever perform a marriage to homosexuals,” said Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, a chaplain.
“There is no gay gene,” said Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe.
Being gay is a sexual choice, he said.
Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, asked that the debate over same-sex marriage be transparent.
There are lots of reasons, said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, to believe Minnesotans are not ready for same-sex marriage.
The defeat of the marriage amendment was not a broad hint from voters, some Republicans argue, that they’re ready for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Both bill supporters and opponents indicated they didn’t have a sense of how the vote currently breaks down in the Legislature.
Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, speaking in the Capitol corridor, said he understood where Republicans like Anderson were coming from — they were from the libertarian wing of the party, he said.
Setting moral issues aside, it makes no sense to argue, Nienow argued, that government doesn’t have a role to play in marriage.
When people marry, they essentially sign a contract, he said.
Government has a legitimate role in contract law.
“No question,” he said.
While suggesting the media would zero in on the “gay gene” comment, the whole matter of genetics is a side issue, Nienow said.
Supporters of the same-sex marriage legislation insist passage would not force any religious faith to conduct marriages between same-sex partners if it ran contrary to their religious beliefs.
One provision in the bill states that religious organizations, associations, or societies have “exclusive control” over their own theological doctrine and teachings.
Further, it states that licensed or ordained members of the clergy authorized to perform marriages are not subject to any fine, penalty, or civil liability for failing or refusing to solemnize a marriage for any reason.
Tim Budig can be reached at [email protected]