Sen Koering: Legislative Aide expected to apologize on Monday

What started out as a simple disagreement on public policy towards gay marrage, Senator Koering has managed to enflame the entire GLBT community thanks to his petulant little legislative assistant; Ken Swecker.   Holy crow!

Where did Senator Koering find this Swecker guy?  Did he come recommended with papers and accolades from The Jerry Fallwell and Anita Bryant Country Club?

Let’s just prop up Swecker’s letter for everybody to see.  Here:  You read and I’ll head out back grab some pitchforks and oil up the torches.  I’ll join you when you’re done:

My name is Ken Swecker, Senator Koering’s Legislative Assistant. Senator Koering and I both would like to respond to the e-mails we’ve been receiving regarding his intention to not vote in favor of Senate File 120. I am currently responding to the e-mails to give you the Senator’s home phone number so that you might call him over the weekend and speak with him personally on the matter. This much he asked me to do.

This Senate File bill 120 simply makes the Marriage and Family Protection laws gender neutral.  Senator Koering is openly gay, he’s a Republican and he’s planning to vote against this bill.   It’s heated sparks everywhere throughout the GLBT community (as we shall see).  But, let’s move on with Mr. Swecker and his Snotty-Gram and I’ll get those torches:

To add to that, as a personal statement, is to say that SF 120 is something that the majority of the People of Senate District 12, the People that he was elected to represent, do not favor this piece of legislation. In case you have forgotten, we are a government of the People, by the People, and for the People. He was not elected serve his personal interests. I personally believe that instead of sending e-mails full of threats and hateful words you should take his example to heart and congratulate him on being a legislator who cares more about what the People of his district want than what he may want personally. You and I both know that this is a rare quality to find, and just because this is contrary to how you wish for him to vote, you must remember and respect he is here to represent the interests of his rural Minnesota constituents who voted him into office. As a constituent of his myself, I am happy to see him take non-personal votes on several issues. After all, I would not want another politician taking another vote that would serve his or her personal interests more so than the People’s, would you?

I can testify all day long about how much Senator Koering cares for the People of Senate District 12. He ran three consecutive times, being defeated the first two, and why did he put himself through so much hard work? Do you think it was because he needed another job? Absolutely not! He did it because he believed he was the best person to serve the People that he calls neighbors, friends, and family. And especially now, in a time like this, we are being bogged down with this completely pointless issue. There are People in Morrison and Crow Wing Counties, and across the State who are losing their jobs, their homes, their insurance, and were you to ask them if this is an issue that should take one second of precedent over these conditions they’re facing every day, do you believe, do you honestly believe that they would say to you, ‘Yes, please, waste the time of the State Legislature with a piece of legislation that will not help, but in fact, overshadow the current situation we’re living in? Please, waste their time with this piece of legislation while I tell my son and daughter that mom and dad aren’t hungry tonight?’

I know very well that you will respond to this e-mail of mine with some probably quirky, snide, and very thoughtless comment that will make me out to be a bad person and threaten the Senator even more just as most of the absolutely tactless and disrespectful e-mails we’ve received have been written, but really, don’t waste your time. We’ll just put your e-mail where it belongs, in the trash.

The Senator’s home number is

He’s free on the weekends.

Very Sincerely, every word of it,
Ken Swecker

I hope you do not believe that this e-mail was written specific to the one that you sent, this is a blanket e-mail, being sent to everyone who has e-mailed us on this issue and I’ve already wasted too much time in responding to you. Good day.

See what I mean?  Oh!  And which do you want: a torch or a pitchfork?

Waymon Hudson, of The Bilerico Project made a rather poignant observation:

The basic idea that a leader can’t vote for something that is right, or has to vote for the mob rule, is a flawed concept as well. While I wonder if Koering and Swecker have done any kind of polling of his constituents to see how they feel on this issue (or if they are simply using it a as a shield for their own biases), the issue is actually pointless. The assumption in that argument is that the LGBT community is not part of “of the people, for the people and by the people.” Yes, everyone can have a fair shake, except us.

fruitfly21Hudson makes a great point: The difficulties of politics isn’t being a door mat for your own constiuents.  The difficulties of being a politician, at least a good politician, is making very tough decisions even when your constituents don’t agree with you! The good Senator can, with an open mind and an open conscious vote for this bill and then explain to his own constituents why he voted the way he did because it effects so many gay and lesbian lives who live in, and outside of his district!  This is a Minnesota Bill!  This isn’t a bill from the 12th District, about the 12th District and for the 12th District!

Towleroad noticed the phrase-ology that this whole issue is a waste of time and that’s it’s pointless.  I’m sorry: Did the Senator’s aid just say that my ten year relationship with my life parter was “pointless” and a “waste of time” to discuss?

Projector Ray over at The Stumbling Block dissects the entire letter line by line and hashes the crap out of it.

Breaking News:

I read this letter to my husband partner and said; “Ya know what?  I’m calling the Senator and pointing this last topic out.  This Ken Swecker’s comments are out of control.”

So, I called.  I used words like “Sir” and “No Sir.” And I pointed out to the Senator Koering that we’ve been together for 10 years now.  For his legislative aide to say that this topic was a waste of time was a reach that went too far!  The Senator agreed and stated that he agreed that the comment was uncalled for and he was going to have his aide write an apology to the public on Monday.

I said; “I told my partner here that Ken Swecker’s letter was extremely offensive.  Senator, my partner and I have been together for ten years now – and although Mr. Swecker thinks this issue is a “waste of time”, I don’t think that’s right.  My relationship with my partner is not a waste of time and that’s a horrible thing to say.”

He agreed and said he would have Mr. Swecker issue a letter of apology first thing on Monday.

He asked; “You know Fruit, you tell me this:  Shouldn’t I vote for what my constituents tell me?  If I ran a poll throughout my district, the people who wouldn’t be in favor of this bill far outnumber those who would!  Shouldn’t I vote the way my constituents want?”

I said; “Senator: I don’t think a politician who votes whatever his constituents want makes a very good politician.  A good politician has to make tough decisions – and many times, those decisions go against the will of his or her constituents.  How I define a good politician is when he or she makes very unpopular decisions and then explains to his or her constituents why it was the right decision!”

He sighed and agreed.  I added: “Mr. Senator, your vote for this bill because you’re gay yourself is also being disingenuous.  You need to vote one what’s best for all of Minnesota, and that includes all of people who’s lives are affected by this bill!”

He said: “You know, this goes another way too.  When I’m down in the Cities and I’m talking to a bunch of gay and lesbian folks and they don’t know me.  So they ask me what do I do?  And I tell them that I work for the state of Minnesota.   Then sometimes, they get a little more curious and they ask me what I do and I eventually have to tell them that I’m a state Senator.   Then they say; “Oh? DFL?!” and I tell them “No, I”m a Republican”.  Then all of a sudden, they don’t want to talk to me.  They have nothing to say to me.  So you see…The gay community can be just as bull-headed as the Repubolican Party can!  They need to losen up too!”

I laughed and agreed.  “We have gay friends who are Republicans and we have a rule: “Don’t talk politics!”

He laughed and said; “Exactly!  But I’m a politician”

I said;  “Senator, there’s a point also to be made here and that is your comment that you made regarding gay marriage.  You remarked that this gay marriage thing was going too fast and that you felt like you had to push back sometimes.  Senator – that’s not right either and you really know it.  Senator; gay and lesbian people – we proudly wear an upside-down pink triangle because Adolf Hitler and The Nazi Party made people like you and I wear one while thrown into concentration camps.  That was sixty-odd years ago Senator!  It was forty years ago when the Stonewall Riots happened in New York this coming June.  Forty years!  Senator, you really need to explain how  much slower this issue needs to go because we’ve been waiting a very long time!”

FruitFly 6He agreed and he said he’d think about this bill a lot before he cast his vote.

The Senator and I agreed that the topic of gay marriage should be talked about and that it was completely okay to disagree on the topic.  He pointed out: “You know, I don’t know how I’m going to vote on that bill – I just might vote yes on it!”

So there you have it my pretties!!   I may have just been the cog that turned on the Great Big Marriage Debate in Minnesota!

Little ole me…. the itty-bitty tiny little Fruit Fly up there  in the corner.

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