Kudos to Minnesota writer Andy Birkey for getting published in the May 2009 issue of The Advocate. The print version just showed up in my mailbox today.
His subject..... Minnesota's hapless gay Republican state senator Paul Koering. The column isn't available on the magazine's website, but here are some highlights:
A gay Minnesota legislator from a conservative district says there are bigger priorities than marriage equality - like saving the English language.
Gay GOP state senator Paul Koering represents a conservative rural district in central Minnesota where the economy depends on struggling tourism and the paper-milling industries. Right-wingers attempted to unseat him in 2006, distributing literature claiming Koering would promote homosexuality in schools. And he's up for reelection in 2010. This all might explain why the senator told a radio station in February that he would vote against a marriage bill introduced in the legislature on March 5.
Activists called the 44-year old an 'Uncle Mary' and his office in St. Paul was slammed with angry e-mails. But few of his critics knew that Koering voted against forcing a senate vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005.
His legislative assistant, Ken Swecker, certainly pushed back hard (against the critics) after his boss's radio interview made news, disseminating an open letter in which Swecker called same-sex marriage a 'completely useless issue at a time when Minnesotans are losing their jobs'.
What the letter failed to mention was a bill Koering introduced March 6 to make English the official language of Minnesota, where the state motto is 'L'Etoile du Nord', French for 'Star of the North'.
Again, congrats to Mr. Birkey for getting published in a national magazine.
And Senator Koering - if your puzzling stance on marriage equality isn't enough to diminish your ever-shrinking stature, shame on you for heaving trash like an 'official language' bill into the dumpster of useless legislative output. If having that bullet point on your 2010 campaign literature helps you in an endorsement fight, ask yourself about the character of the people who have the power to endorse you.
It's small-minded, it's paranoid, it plays to the lowest common denominator, and I'm embarassed to read about it again, in a national publication.