Minnesota GOP’s Kelly explains his vote against anti-gay marriage amendment
With only a handful of exceptions, legislators voted along party lines on Saturday night’s House vote to put a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot next fall. Republican Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing was one who broke with his party, making an impassioned speech Saturday. “I can’t help but feel this is an assault on personal freedom and choice,” he said, before mentioning the service of fellow Republican Rep. John Kriesel, who lost both legs during an IED attack in Iraq.
Passage of the amendment, he said, would “diminish the sacrifices that Rep. Kriesel and all the men and women who died fighting for the freedoms of individuals.”
“We hide behind the fact that ‘we’re just bringing this to the people. We’re just going to give a voice to the people,’” he said. “Well, I think we can look back in history and see that we’re littered with choices by the people that were very hurtful. All we have to do is look back to the ’50s and ’60s and see where prejudice and discrimination were at its height. ”
Moments later, Kelly questioned Kriesel about why he served in Iraq.
“I chose to go to Iraq to defend our way of life, our freedom, and promote freedom to an oppressed group of people on the other side of the world that deserve it,” Kriesel replied.
Then Kelly took his statements elsewhere, only to loop back to Kriesel’s service in his closing remarks. He said he understood that many Republicans were asked by constituents about the gay marriage amendment. “But I’m just wondering, did they ask you another question after that? Did they say, ‘If that’s your belief, will you promise to make sure that everyone else in the state of Minnesota abides by your belief? … You didn’t make promises to impose your will on other people.”
He then referred to Bradlee Dean, who stirred controversy with his prayer to begin Friday’s House session.
“We had an individual standing at that podium with more hatred than I’ve ever heard,” Kelly said. “When we went to recess, I think the majority of you were outraged. And if we would’ve voted yesterday, this amendment was going down on an up-and-down vote. I would ask you to think about what happened yesterday and think about why your emotions were that high and that you were going to instantly vote this down.”
He continued, “You know what happened to that individual? A few hours later, he was standing here in the Capitol having a press conference denouncing our Speaker [Kurt Zellers]. Because that’s his right. And he’s got that right because he lives in this country. Because of people like John Kriesel.
“And yet this amendment suggests that we can take away the rights of a small group of people to live their life the way they would like to live it. If we vote this amendment on, we legitimize that individual and we diminish the sacrifices of Rep. Kriesel and all the men and women who died fighting for the freedoms of individuals.”
In concluding, Kelly asked that the amendment be withdrawn.
“It is the right time,” he said. “It is the right statement for the state of Minnesota.”
Kelly was joined by Republicans Kriesel, Reps. Steve Smith of Mound, Rich Murray of Albert Lea, and John Kriesel of Cottage Grove in voting against the amendment. DFL Reps. Lyle Koenen of Clara City and Denise Dittrich of Champlin voted for it. The amendment passed.