A response to comments by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka

Leaders of Jewish Community Action and Gender Justice respond.

Sceengrab of Andrew Wommack and Paul Gazelka
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, right, appeared on a livestream interview with conservative minister and media personality Andrew Wommack.

It is the job of our elected officials to represent Minnesotans, to make our voices heard and bring opportunity to our communities. We expect that regardless of political party, our representatives understand that they represent Minnesotans of every identity. 

It is not the job of elected officials to promote hate and use their religious beliefs to deny the humanity of Minnesotans. Recent reporting from the Minnesota Reformer shows Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka doing just that — supporting the scientifically debunked, dehumanizing, and psychologically damaging practice of conversion therapy and suggesting that bad parenting is somehow to blame for Minnesotans identifying as LGBTQ.

These are age-old tactics of fear and discrimination that religious extremists use to create a false choice between religious freedom and civil rights. Treating someone’s queerness as something that needs to be fixed tells LGBTQ people that they do not have a place in this world, and that the very people who are supposed to be making their voices heard do not want to hear them. 

The right to practice your religion freely does not include a right to attack and deny the humanity of your neighbors. When Leader Gazelka supports these ideas as an expression of his faith, he is choosing to use his position of power to promote and codify an agenda that intentionally targets and erases the dignity of LGBTQ Minnesotans. 

We believe in building a Minnesota where LGBTQ people are people, not problems to be solved or secrets to be kept. We strive for a world where every person can live freely and safely in their community regardless of their gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, no matter the beliefs of the people around them. These are the lessons we read in our Holy Books: “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” “Justice, Justice, shall you pursue.” “We are all made in God’s image.”

Scripture teaches us justice and fairness and compassion — not exclusion, resentment and hate. This is the world we are working to build. It is our representatives’ job to help us build it.

 

Carin Mrotz
Carin Mrotz is Jewish Community Action's executive director. She joined the organization's staff in 2004. She has worked on campaigns for immigrant and workers’ rights, and she helped organize the Jewish community in support of marriage equality in 2012.
Megan Peterson
Megan J. Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, joined the organization in 2016, bringing many years of experience in progressive social justice causes, in particular reproductive rights.