ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – It’s crunch time at the Minnesota State Capitol as lawmakers have just a few days to try and solve a $5 billion budget deficit.
Controversy and distraction got in the way of settling the budget issues Friday, and in a big way. House Republicans invited a controversial preacher known for his anti-gay comments on a day where it was possible a bill would be passed to put gay marriage on the 2012 ballot.
Bradlee Dean walked among gay marriage protesters in the Capitol before offering the opening prayer in the House, wearing a track suit.
There was no mention of gay people or marriage, but the controversial preacher questioned President Barack Obama’s Christianity.
“I know this is a non-denominational prayer in the chamber. It’s not about the Baptists, not about the Catholics alone, or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans, Presbyterians, Evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination. And his name is Jesus, and every president up until 2008 has acknowledged,” Dean said.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers was so furious about the prayer that he started the entire session over, with a different preacher. He also denounced Bradlee Dean and apologized to all lawmakers.
“You will have my commitment that this type of person will never be allowed on this House floor again,” Zellers said.
On his web site, Dean describes himself as a ‘junkyard prophet’. He’s called homosexuals ‘predators’ and ‘molesters.’
“I have taken the time to love the homosexual community by warning them of their sins and their lawless deeds before God and man,” Dean said.
Dean was invited to pray by a freshman member of the House of Representatives who is against gay marriage, but said he was unaware of the ‘junkyard prophet’s’ views.
“That’s radical thinking. That kind of thinking – I think back to Nazi Germany,” said Ernie Leidiger, a Republican from Mayer.
But protesters lining the Capitol hallways found it hard to believe his prayer happened to be coincidence.
“I think that someone who has publicly said that gays should be executed, that they should be killed, the fact that they would let him on the floor on a day when they might take up a vote to take away rights for these people who cannot ever celebrate a wedding day? It’s hate,” said one emotional protester.
But Dean is no stranger to politics, or Republicans. Former GOP candidate Tom Emmer gave money to his ministry. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann sent video greetings to a Bradlee Dean event.
And state lawmakers appear on his radio show.