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Minn. GOPers Joins Marriage Amendment Opposition

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Next year’s vote to put a gay marriage ban in the Minnesota constitution is testing political friendships among Republicans, some of whom have formed a group to oppose the gay marriage amendment.

“I’m a Republican because I believe in liberty and freedom,” said State Representative John Kriesel, a freshman legislator from suburban Cottage Grove. “And I think this is an attack on that.”

The Minnesota Republican party doesn’t only officially oppose gay marriage; it’s also against civil unions and publicly-funded domestic partnership benefits.

The official Republican Party Platform states:

“We believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that the U.S. Constitution and the
Minnesota constitution should be amended to this effect. We oppose civil unions or their legal
equivalents between same-sex couples and therefore, domestic partner benefits should not be public.”

However, longtime Republicans like Wheelock Whitney, the party’s 1982 endorsed candidate for governor, say the party is losing its focus on what’s really important: a strong defense, limited government and responsible budgets.

“There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, in the Republican value system that supports marriage bans in our constitution,” said Whitney, who added he will donate $10,000 to the effort to defeat the amendment next year.

State Party Chairman Tony Sutton says individual Republicans can disagree with Republican beliefs on some issues, but says the official party platform will retain its support for the constitutional gay marriage ban.

“The Republican Party unconditionally supports the state party platform calling for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Sutton said in a statement. “The Republican Party of Minnesota is a true grassroots organization and the party platform reflects the views and values of the majority of Republicans elected by their neighbors in communities throughout Minnesota. The party recognizes that not all Republicans might agree with all of the party platform at all times; debate is healthy, but at the end of the day the MNGOP stands behind and supports its activist and passage of the marriage amendment.”

Some Republican strategists, however, say gay marriage is a “generational issue” and that young voters — the future of any political party — are not necessarily against gay marriage.

A May 2011 Gallup Poll found that for the first time, a slim majority support gay marriage: 53 percent.

Also, the younger the person, the more likely to support it: 70 percent of 18 to 34 year olds were found to support gay marriage, compared to only 39 percent of people 55 and older.

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