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GOP Rep. Kriesel Votes Against Gay Marriage Ban

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is one step away from landing on Minnesota's 2012 election ballot. But a Republican state representative is bucking his party to stop it.

"I'm an absolute, firm no. I'll vote to do whatever I can to defeat it in any way, shape or form," said State Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove.

He said his party is wrong to interfere in the private lives of Minnesotans.

Kriesel is a war hero and a freshman Republican state representative. Now his GOP colleagues are discovering Kriesel is also unpredictable.

He is breaking ranks from Republicans to vote against a ban on gay marriage. Outspoken on Twitter, Kriesel is not just saying no, he's saying "Hell No."

"You live once in your life and so if someone finds someone they love and they're happy with them, why are we trying to take that away? That's not what government should be doing," he said.

Kriesel's aggressive stand against a gay marriage ban came on the same day a Republican House Committee approved it amid protest, anger and tears.

The freshman lawmaker from Cottage Grove said he's not worried about political repercussions for bucking his party's anti-gay marriage stand. It's because of perspective he earned while serving in Iraq.

"I've learned the hard way how precious life is," said Kriesel.

In Iraq, two of Kriesel's fellow soldiers died in a bomb blast. Both his legs were blown off. He said that experience changed him to understand what matters.

"I love my wife more than anything. I couldn't imagine my life without her. She makes me happy. I could not ever live with myself to vote to take that away from someone else," Kriesel said.

So far, Kriesel said he's not getting any pressure from Republican leaders to change his vote.

The gay marriage constitutional amendment has already been approved by the Senate. The House could vote on it sometime Thursday.

If it passes, Minnesota voters will be asked in 2012 if marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman.

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