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Gay conversion therapy: Paul Gazelka hands DFLers an issue to run on

Gay conversion therapy: Paul Gazelka hands DFLers an issue to run on

MNGOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has handed us an issue to help motivate our base by reviving the controversy over gay conversion therapy. The House passed a ban in the last legislative session, but the Senate declined to take it up. At least, that’s generally all that was heard on the issue. Was it a matter of running out of time, or dickering over the particulars of different House and Senate versions?

No. It was quite pointedly blocked by Gazelka, who got into the Senate by running on an anti-gay agenda, specifically making sure the one openly gay Republican legislator lost the party nomination for reelection. It turns out Gazelka subjected his own child to gay conversion therapy, and he evidently believes his job in the Senate is to impose his Christian fundamentalist beliefs on everyone else.

Gazelka was quoted saying, “A lot of my job frankly is stopping the onslaught of the left from continually moving us in a way that we know is contrary to the Bible.” Even if the left is moving to a position supported by both science and a clear majority of the people? Yes. I guess his interpretation of the Bible tells him the nonsense explanations he dreams up for the existence of homosexuality are worth more than overwhelming evidence gay conversion therapy doesn’t do anything but traumatize the people, usually teenagers, subjected to it.

Gazelka wrote the state constitutional amendment to outlaw marriage equality. It wasn’t legal at the time, but Republicans wanted an issue to motivate their base to turn out for the 2012 elections. It probably worked, though it can be a bit hard to tell because as it happened, it motivated the DFL base too. Attitudes had changed. Though the effect of the amendment’s defeat was just to keep a ban out of the state constitution, it was effectively a vote for marriage equality. It was part of how the DFL won both houses, and since we held governor already, the effect was what you’re guessing if you don’t actually remember: marriage equality was quickly legalized.

Gazelka has done it again. In his zeal to impose his religion on the rest of us, he has brought conversion therapy back into the news and made it clear that he is very much the problem. DFLers, he has given us an issue to motivate our base: either get out to vote, or let one of the last supporters of gay conversion therapy be the one who decides if this abuse remains legal.

Yes, I’m in a safely blue district, and it’s risk-free for me to make this an issue, but I care whether we turn out our DFL vote to re-elect Tina Smith and elect whomever we pick as our presidential nominee. I can’t control anyone else’s campaign of course, but I can say if I’m our eventual nominee, I won’t hesitate to use this to spur DFLers and DFL-leaners in this district to turn out. I don’t really care if I win with 71 or 72%, but that small difference could be big if it goes up the ballot, and I intend to do my bit for our whole ticket.

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