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NEWS: Openly Gay State Senator Tests Minnesota GOP

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Openly gay state senator tests Minnesota GOP

BRAINERD, Minnesota (AP) -- State Sen. Paul Koering once fit neatly into the profile of socially conservative central Minnesota: abortion opponent, supporter of gun and property rights, outspoken supporter of veterans.

But last year, Koering was the only Republican in the Senate to join Democrats in opposing an effort to force a floor vote on a constitutional gay marriage ban.

That stirred up long-standing rumors at the Capitol about Koering's own sexuality, and within a few days he revealed that he was gay -- a move the area's GOP chairman called "political suicide."

In Tuesday's primary, he will find out if that is true.

"There's going to be a lot of people watching to see if the voters can look at my record and say, 'He's doing a good job,"' said the 41-year-old Koering. "Or, will they look at my personal life and say, 'I can't support him because of that.' If that's how they're going to vote, I may be out of a job."

Kevin Goedker, a city councilman who's challenging Koering in Tuesday's GOP primary, says it isn't because his opponent is gay. But he's making an explicit appeal to voters whose values guide them in the voting booth.

"People of high moral values and integrity must rally and support candidates who will work to bring ethics, morals and family values back into government," Goedker's father, Gene, his campaign treasurer, wrote in a fundraising letter.

Patrick Sammon, executive vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, said it's important to the future of the Republican Party that politicians like Koering can find support.

"If the Republicans want to be a lasting majority party in America, they can't just shut out gays and lesbians," Sammon said.

The Victory Fund, which raises campaign funds for gay candidates, said there are currently 325 openly gay elected officials in the country, out of about 511,000 elected offices. The group doesn't break that figure down by party, but "the vast majority of them are Democrats," spokesman Denis Dison said.

"We are seeing more instances of openly gay Republicans, but there are still going to be significant parts of the country where that's going to be difficult to pull off," Dison said.

Like Koering, most prominent gay Republicans came out only after they were in office, including U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona and former U.S. Rep. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin.

It doesn't help that a significant portion of the Republican base is dead-set against legal recognition of gay relationships, the leading front in recent years in the battle for gay rights. More than any other issues, those opposed to Koering's re-election cite his decision to break from the party line on gay marriage.

Indeed, since that 2005 vote, he has changed course, siding with fellow Senate Republicans in more recent efforts to get a statewide vote on the definition of marriage. Koering said it's what the majority of his constituents want, though he won't say how he'd cast his own ballot if it ever comes to a statewide vote.

Koering is not without his supporters among local Republicans, and in April he won the party's endorsement after seven rounds of balloting. Goedker decided to run in the primary anyway.

The winner will face Democrat Terry Sluss, a county commissioner, in the November election.

Goedker said he wouldn't vote for Koering in the general election.

"In my opinion I think it'd be tough to be gay and to be somebody I'd vote for based on some of the life choices they make," Goedker said. "To me it's a more liberal point of view."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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"In my opinion I think it'd be tough to be gay and to be somebody I'd vote for based on some of the life choices they make," Goedker said.

I wish these people could learn to understand that it isn't a life choice. It's who we are. :icon13:

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'Life choice', 'lifestyle'....I guess you could say accepting it was a choice, after all, we could date girls, right? Though we can't help who we're attracted to or fall in love with. Yeah, I resent that, too, Trab, and don't like to use buzz-words because they're usually loaded with the wrong ammo.

I guess my 'lifestyle' is pretty gay, in that I live among, talk to and hang out with as high a percentage of queers as possible. That was a choice, on my part, as is dating men. It was also a choice to let my family know, in my teens, that I wasn't straight, and they've really loved me for it. Not.

For a conservative, right-wing type guy to publically say he's gay takes guts, he's very likely to lose his office. Which is another reason I just can't fathom Log Cabin Republicans (politically active gay Republicans). Why be part of a party (whether we need any or only two political parties in the US is another topic) that would like to eradicate you from the landscape? In Real Life, I know (biblically and otherwise) Log Cabin Republicans, they seem otherwise to be sensible people.

I just noticed that this article originates in Brainerd, Minnesota, location of the fantastic film Fargo, starring William H. Macy, the fantastic actor.



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Being homosexual is not a choice.

Acting on it is. However, I think it is cruel to expect anyone to be celibate for their entire life (which appears to be the only choice for a homosexual that some people find acceptable). Once you agree it's cruel, it then becomes a question of what is morally permissible and what is not... and that's a very personal thing. It's why most people seem to avoid the subject and just think the whole issue is too difficult.

As for Log Cabin Republicans, I can appreciate their point of view. I would guess that they believe, overall, in what the Republican Party stands for... they just have a problem with one policy. Do you ditch all your other beliefs because of that one area of disagreement, or do you work internally to try to change that policy?

I had a similar discussion with some people with the last federal election here in Australia. Each of the two major political parties have policies that I agree with and that I disagree with. Neither party is perfectly aligned with what I want. I therefore have to rank the various issues and make a decision based one what I see as my priorities. Gay Rights is an issue, but it is not the only one and I can't, in all honesty, make it my number one issue. Education, Healthcare, Law and Order rank higher in my list of priorities. The Environment, Poverty and general Social Welfare rank at least equal. I have to juggle all of these issues, and others, before I decide how I'm going to vote.

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GOP's Koering beats back primary challenge

The Advocate

Minnesota State Sen. Paul Koering, who came out since his last election, beat back a GOP primary challenge Tuesday from an anti-gay opponent, while same-sex marriage supporter Eliot Spitzer decisively won New York's Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Other gay and gay-friendly candidates fared less well in their primary battles Tuesday. Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay New York lawyer vying to be that state's Democratic candidate for attorney general, was bested by political scion Andrew Cuomo.

Fellow Democrats Anthony McCarthy and Mary Washington, who were trying to become the first black gay members of Maryland's House of Delegates, were also defeated.

"I think I won because I continued to run a positive campaign," Koering told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "In this race, I had everything thrown at me that could possibly be thrown at me and I still won."

Koering's opponent, Brainerd City Councilman Kevin Goedker, had said he asked voters to decide the race based on their values but said he was not opposing Koering because he's gay.

On Sunday, the Minneapolis Times-Star reported, Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage had leafletted cars at Brainerd-area churches to publicize Koering's failure to vote three years ago on a floor amendment to prohibit "the promotion or teaching of homosexuality" in public schools. The amendment failed overwhelmingly.

Meanwhile, Spitzer, who beat his primary challenger by an overwhelming margin, has said he supports marriage equality and will work to create legislation in New York granting it.

Copyright 2006 PlanetOut Inc.

margin of victory - 3,956-3,270

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I just can't fathom Log Cabin Republicans (politically active gay Republicans). Why be part of a party (whether we need any or only two political parties in the US is another topic) that would like to eradicate you from the landscape? In Real Life, I know (biblically and otherwise) Log Cabin Republicans, they seem otherwise to be sensible people.


I participate in LCR 'cause I want to be part of change and protect our flank from the whacko right wing extremists (I also support HRC and was at a PS Stonewall Democrat event last week...Barney Frank was the guest speaker). Our Sacramento LCR lobbyist has been very successful in working with legislators and the governor to support GLBT issues. The Governator - who attended a LCR fund raiser last month - has signed more gay-friendly legislation than any other governor in U.S. history. We don't get everything but 75% is better than zip.

LCR fought hard for Chaffee and several others last Tuesday. Give us a little slack.

I'm glad that you're an equal-opportunity guy...biblically. :unsure:

Jack :icon13:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Rick, besides the obvious, that we would in fact still not be 'equal' because 'similar' is not the same (wordplay but valid nonetheless), the difference in the language itself would require the re-writing of endless millions of other laws, regulations, and contracts. Each one of those would be fought with equal vigor, I'm pretty convinced.

I like the idea mentioned elsewhere in this forum, eliminating marriage altogether, along with all the 'benefits' given out by governments for those so united.

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