Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea (appointed during the Pawlenty administration) has rejected recall petitions submitted by Crow Wing County Republican with something of a history of objecting to human diversity.
Politics in Minnesota's Mike Mullen reports in Supreme Court rejects recall efforts against Radinovich, Ward
Both recall initiatives originated with Doug Kern, a Crow Wing County Republican activist who argued that Radinovich and Ward should face recalls for having voted against the will of their neighboring districts, where a majority of voters supported the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In Ward’s House District 10A, 57.6 percent of voters favored the amendment, while Radinovich’s HD 10B voted “yes” with a 62.6 percent majority.
Kern quickly collected the required 25 signatures for a recall petition, which the Secretary of State’s Office then passed on to the Minnesota Supreme Court. In a pair of nearly identical dismissals filed yesterday, Gildea ruled that the gay marriage votes fell well short of the state standard for a recall, which requires that a legislator be guilty of “serious malfeasance or nonfeasance” of his or her office.
“Constituent disagreement with votes taken by their elected representative does not equate to malfeasance by the representative,” Gildea wrote, in language which appears in both of her dismissals. “As the supreme court has recognized, the remedy for constituents who disagree with an elected representative’s positions or voting record is not in the recall procedures.”
The Brainerd Dispatch reports that Kern felt the legislators were depriving him of his freedom of speech and religion, while admitting that state party officers had tried to talk him out of filing the petition:
Kern, a deputy chair of the Crow Wing County Republican Party, said his recall attempts had merit. He said the enactment of the gay marriage law, which was supported by both lawmakers, meant that Minnesotans lost the word marriage and also lost their freedoms of speech and religion.
Bauer said he was not surprised at the ruling.
Radinovich said he has been busy with legislative business and hadn’t been paying too much attention to the recall effort. He said he respects everyone’s right to the democratic process and he and Kern had a difference of opinion on this issue.
Ward said the facts prevailed in the case and the democratic process worked.
“I’m very thankful they found the way they did,” he said. “I respect the opinions of the people who presented the petitions, as well.”
. . .Kern said he initiated the recalls as a private citizen and not as a party official. He said state Republican Party officials had tried to talk him out of the recall efforts.
Kern is actively fear-mongering in local newspapers. In a May 16, 2013 Open Forum letter at the Brainerd Dispatch, Freedom of religion, Kern writes:
And what about me as a Sunday school teacher? Who will protect me? No one. Can you spell “diversity training in your church”?
Read the comments on the post. Kern repeats his fears in a letter about the recall posted today at the Mille Lac Messenger:
Not to mention every business in Minnesota will have to bend the knee or have a lawsuit, especially now that marriage is redefined by state mandate. . . .
. . . If they can redefine marriage and infringe on our freedom of religion, which is tied into our freedom of speech, everything else is on the table from your children, guns, land, pursuit of happiness and so on. So really is it all about the feel? . . .
A review of earlier news reports reveals that Kern has a history of activism against LGBT rights and religious diversity.
The Doug Kern Record: Fear of a gay planet, colleges teaching about Muslims in the Mideast
The Crow Wing County Republican has long opposed human rights for gay men and lesbians.
Recently, it's been at a fever pitch. In a letter published in March at the Dispatch, Kern attacked Ward, and warned that same-sex marriage would "infect" children:
Be informed on what your representative stands for or votes for, as it will affect or infect your children’s grandchildren
In Oberstar's 'California values', Kern urged support for the 2004 Republican CD8 candidate:
Could someone explain these signs that read, "For Minnesota Values Vote James Oberstar?" Last I checked, marriage being one man, one woman, is a Minnesota value, the sign should read "California Values," yes, I will vote for real Minnesota values -- Mark Groetum -- He knows the difference between marriage and "playing house."
Kern was among the conservative Republicans who worked to endorse other candidates after former state senator Paul Koering came out as a gay man in 2005. Koering secured the 2006 Republican endorsement after 7 ballots, but Kern supported his primary challenger.
The primary challenge functioned largely as an coded attack on Koering's sexuality. MPR reported:
Koering thinks his sexuality shouldn't be an issue in an election, and it shouldn't matter to constituents.
"The fact that I'm gay, never, never comes up. I don't think that's a huge concern with people," Koering said.
But Koering still thinks that's the sole reason he's being challenged in a primary.
His opponent is Kevin Goedker, 34, a former Marine who sits on the Brainerd City Council. Goedker says Koering is not conservative enough for this Senate district.
"I don't see somebody out there representing me and my family. So with no other choice, I felt it necessary to step forward and represent the values of my family," Goedker said.
Goedker failed to win his party's endorsement this summer, losing to Koering. But Goedker says the fact that it took the incumbent seven ballots to win endorsement proves a primary challenge is viable. And Goedker maintains his challenge is not about Paul Koering's sexuality.
"If that was the only reason I was running, I would've announced a year ago that I was going to run against him then," Goedker said.
One political watcher says despite that assertion, many people feel this primary challenge has everything to do with Koering's personal life.
"Just about any public pronouncement will make reference to values, morals and gay marriage," says Michael Ceriello, a political science professor at Brainerd's Central Lakes College. "And you don't have to read very far between the lines to know exactly what he's talking about," Ceriello said.
MPR reported after the primary:
. . .In the Brainerd area, Republican state Sen. Paul Koering also faced criticism from an opponent for his stand on gay marriage. Koering voted to prevent a vote on same-sex marriage on the Senate floor in 2005. Koering is gay, but says he voted against the measure because it didn't move through the proper legislative channels.
Conservative groups also campaigned against Koering leading up the primary election. Koering says in the end, that tactic didn't work.
"Our campaign has had just about everything thrown at it that could possible happen, and I still prevailed, so it shows that people in Minnesota don't like negative campaigning," he said.
Koering finished with 55 percent of the vote. His opponent was Brainerd City Council Member Kevin Goedker. Goedker campaigned heavily on "family value" issues, and said his campaign had nothing to do with Koering's sexuality.Koering assumes that's not the case, and that his primary challenge was directly related to his personal life. . . .
Kern ripped Koering's Twin Stadium vote in carefully coded language in a 2006, stating that Koering was "untrustworthy." The "trust" meme was promoted by Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage.
In 2006 open forum in the Brainerd Dispatch, Kern defended Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage flyers in Criticism of Koering was fair game:
I am amazed at how Koering's voting record and statements in a leaflet will be considered character assassination, despicable and an attack, I am thankful organizations such as the Minnesota Family Institute and Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage are willing to bring out real issues that concern my family's future - a previous article stated "they attacked one of their own," by putting out this literature. Hate to break it to you, but he is not one of their own, they stand for marriage - one man one woman. Just goes to show you common sense just ain't as common as it used to be. Just ask your grandma I bet she's not confused on the issue. Stand for something or fall for anything my grandma used to say.
Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage endorsed Koering's opponent. Read more at the Dispatch.
The anti-Koering forces came back with a vengence in 2010, with an unintended assist from the incumbent when news broke that he went out to dinner with a gay porn star whose mother lived in the senate district.
Koering's opponent in the 2010 primary, Paul Gazelka, disavowed a mean spirited National Organization for Marriage mailing in a statement on his website:
I want to express to the voters of Senate District 12 my frustration and deep disappointment at the mailings sent by the National Organization for Marriage comparing me and Paul Koering. This group, which supports marriage, a cause near and dear to my heart, has regrettably chosen to use mean-spirited ads instead of what most of us demand, civilized debate on the issues.
Campaign laws forbid me to be aware of what others want to do to “help” me, and early on, I was clear that if issue related advocacy groups were going to independently support me that they should not do negative campaigning. My personal, Christian view, is that it reflects poorly on Christ’s command to do unto others as you would have done unto you and it is not speaking the truth in love. . . .
In 2010, Koering skipped the endorsing convention and went straight to a primary; the primary bid lost steam after Andy Birkey reported that the lawmaker had a dinner date with a gay porn star whose mother lived in the senate district. Koering launched a write-in vote, but Gazelka won the seat in November.
Apparently, voters will only hold those gay porn star dates against a guy for so long.
Kern made same-sex marriage an issue in his county commissioner race, reposting an "editorial" ( his letter in the Brainerd Dispatch) on his campaign website:
Orientation for high school students took on a whole new meaning for my wife and I this last Monday. Being the parents of a eighth-grader going into ninth we were excited to see our son’s enthusiasm for high school. As we entered the school recruiting began … there was the ski team, weight-lifting team, FFA, video club, etc…. and the Gay/Straight Alliance — all recruiting our children.
We walked two times through the booths looking.There was not one Christian-based organization represented. After talking to the principal (who was extremely helpful) we found out there are none. My wife and I have decided to influence our children and the school by organizing a Christ and Christ alone group at the high school.
I have currently contacted youth pastors to link with me to make this work. I also am looking for adults to contact me and donate so we can make this work and be fun. This will be student-led, but adult supervised — just like the Gay/Straight Alliance. If you are as alarmed as I by the recruiting of our impressionable youth (eighth-12th-graders) contact me at email@example.com. As a Sunday School teacher for 27 years I refuse to stand by and see my investments go down the tubes because I am too busy to protect them. Jesus loves you as you are, but he doesn’t leave you the same way he finds you. Put action to your Christianity, be active, be changed and contact me. And to those who say this wasn’t recruiting — that was the purpose of every table represented.
One wonders why he waited until running for office against an openly gay candidate to help students organize a Christian club (they're perfectly constitutional in schools that allow other clubs).
In Chair of Crow Wing County GOP makes false claim about anti-gay marriage amendment, Birkey looked at one of Kern's 2012 letters: that defeat of the amendment would mean same-sex marriage would be legal in two years and churches that failed to perform all marriages would lost their tax status. Birkey's analysis about marriage equality itself was predicated on the GOP retaining control of the legislature (or losing by slight a margin). His review illustrates, however, that no church has ever had its tax status revoked in those states where same-sex marriage is legal.But it's not just gay folk that make Doug Kern fearful.
On April 16, 2009, Brainerd Dispatch associate editor Mike O'Rourke reported in Kiwanis Park is scene of tax protest:
Doug Kern of rural Brainerd, chair of the Crow Wing County Republican Party, said America was a Christian nation and told how his son was alarmed at a sign at Central Lakes College about a meeting on the Muslim faith in the Mideast and politics.
Oh scary. We certainly wouldn't want college students to learn about Muslims in the Mideast.
Photo: Doug Kern, via his real estate office listing. Uncropped and unretouched by Bluestem.
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