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Radinovich to back gay marriage

Bucking public opinion in his district, Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, said Friday he would support a bill legalizing gay marriage.

The first-term representative said he supports equal rights for gay men and women, but he understood how good people could disagree on this issue.

“I have people in my own family with different opinions,” he said.

Radinovich, 27, noted that polls estimate 70 percent of people under the age of 35 support gay marriage.

“For people of my generation, this isn’t a big deal ... At the end of the day I have to live with the decision I make.”

He said 62.5 percent of the voters in his district voted yes on the failed constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. He won his seat by 323 votes last November, The Associated Press reported.

“It would be politically expedient to vote the way the district feels about this,” he said. “Doing the right thing isn’t always popular.

“I think as a representative I have a responsibility to not just represent the majority but to represent people in the minority,” Radinovich said. “We also have gay men and women that live in our community, that grew up in our community and they deserve to have equal rights.”

Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, like Radinovich, represents a district that supported the failed constitutional amendment that would have prohibited gay marriage. Contacted Friday, he said he had not yet decided how he would vote on the measure and didn’t have a time line on when he might decide. He said he had no comment on Radinovich’s decision.

About 170 opponents of gay marriage shared their views with Ward Tuesday at St. Andrew’s Church in Brainerd. He told them the decision on that bill was the most difficult of his career.

Pastor Jim Goodew, who was pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Brainerd for 27 years and urged Radinovich recently to not support a gay marriage bill, said he was disappointed in the lawmaker’s decision not to vote with the vast majority of his constituents.

“Our desire was to try to encourage our leaders to vote for righteousness and the preservation of society. This vote (if gay marriage passes) is a major blow to the home.”

Marriage, in its very definition, Goodew said, is between one man and one woman. The gay marriage bill, he said, would open the door to marriages of two males and one female.

“I see this as a complete destruction of marriage,” Goodew said. “The attack is on marriage itself. The one man-one woman family unit ... that is just being discarded.

“The home is the unit where you have a man and woman, both genders are there and they take care of the kids. I know families have problems. That doesn’t mean you throw away the God-given design.”

Goodew is currently interim pastor at Grace Baptist Fellowship in Sartell.

The Associated Press said lawmakers could vote as early as next week on the bill to make same-sex marriage legal, though votes have yet to be scheduled in either the Senate or the House.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860