As reported by rawstory.com, Minnesota State Representative, Republican John Kriesel demonstrated remarkable integrity and courage in the face of a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit future lawmakers from making same-sex marriage legal.
As a wounded Iraq war veteran, Kriesel, his voice breaking at times, made a heartfelt speech in opposition to the amendment. His passion, determination and eloquence made me cry. The video is displayed at left, and the text follows:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker, members. Um, this has been a tough week, I think tough for all of us. I’ve learned a lot, learned a lot about life this past week, and things that are important to me that I didn’t even know were important to me. If this was five, six years ago, I probably would have voted yes, because I didn’t think about it. I just thought abut my family, I thought about what affects my wife and my kids and nothing else. Everything changed, I went to Iraq, I was in an incident, I nearly died. I remember laying there looking down and seeing my legs mangled, and pretty much guaranteeing that I was done, I was a done deal. I thought that’s where my life was gonna end, and I remember thinking about my wife, and my kids. That’s what crossed my mind and that’s what kept me fighting, the love I have for them. It woke me up, it changed me. And as bad as that day sucked I’ve learned a lot from it, and it’s changed who I am for the better.
Because of that, it’s made me think about this issue and say, you know what, what would I do without my wife? She makes me happy. Life is hard. We’re in a really tough time in our history, really tough time. Happiness is so, so hard to find for people. So they find it, they find someone that makes them happy, and we want to take that person away, we want to say, oh no, you can be together, you can be together, you can love that person, but you can’t marry them, you can’t marry them. That’s wrong, that’s wrong and I disagree with it.
I joined the military when I was 17 because I love this country and I love this state and I love what it stands for. I remember being a pretty misguided knucklehead at basic training, they whip you into shape real quick. I remember my drill sergeant telling us, all of us young 17-year-old kids there, saying one thing you’re gonna face in your right, two things actually, the hard right and the easy wrong. It’s easy to go with the flow, go with the current, this kind of, you know, do what’s wrong, a lot of times that ends up being wrong. But it is oftentimes hard to stand up against a group of people you may be close with or stand up for something that may not be popular, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, and I’m proud, I’m proud of the stance I took. I’m proud to stand with Representive Kelly and many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. I’m proud of this. It is the right thing to do.
I, uh, this amendment doesn’t represent what I went to fight for, this doesn’t represent that. Hear that out there? That’s the America I fought for and I’m proud of that. A little bit earlier I had this passed around, it’s a photo of a gentleman named Corporal Andrew Wilford. He gave his life in Afghanistan on February 27th of this year. He hit an improvised explosive device while keeping us safe, protecting our freedoms, giving us the right to have this debate tonight. He was gay. He was gay. I don’t know about you guys, but I cannot look at this family and look at this picture and say, you know what, Corporal, you were good enough to fight for your country and give your life, but you were not good enough to marry the person you love. I can’t do that. I cannot do that, and I won’t do that.
If there was a “hell no” button right here I would press it, that would be the one I’d press, but unfortunately I just have nay, and that’s the one I’m gonna press.
Many of the things we do down here, not to diminish it, but a lot of the things we do in the big picture, the grand scheme of things, don’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference. I mean, I’m not diminishing the work we do, but a lot of the laws we pass don’t affect that many people. This will affect a lot of people, a lot of people. Years down the road, this is gonna be, people are gonna look back on this and know that this was pivotal point in history, for our state, for our families, for our communities, for peoples’ happiness and freedom. And when my grandkids look at me and they say, Grandpa, where’d you stand on this issue, I’ll be proud to look at them and say, you know what, I was on the right side of history. I was on the right side of history.
I am humbled and proud to stand here, this has been a very respectful debate, and I’m just, I’m pleading with you to vote no, I’m begging you. I know that a lot of times when we walk in here, budget bills, whatever, a lot of the stuff, a lot of us already made up our mind. There’s a lot of people in this room today that have not decided and I’m asking you to stand with me. I’ve got your back, Tim Kelly’s got your back, and everybody out there has your back. and I also believe if this did make it on the ballot, it would lose. Minnesota has our back.
Please vote no, stand up for freedom. Thank you and I appreciate ya listening to me.”
Kriesel’s begging for humanity was in vain – the marriage amendment passed the Minnesota statehouse by a vote of 70-62.