Republican state Senator Paul Koering (right) of Minnesota came out of the closet during a phone interview with journalist Mike Rogers of blogActive. Rogers had placed the call to Koering after receiving photos of Koering in a gay bar.
With Rogers on the line and his political career in the balance, Sen. Koering – who had recently caused a stir by being the only Republican in the Minnesota senate to vote against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage – decided not to weasel. He admitted that he was gay.
Koering, 40, hails from farm country, some 150 miles north of Minneapolis. He says his decision to come out was a complex one, but that the marriage amendment vote—aligned with the two year anniversary of his mother’s death—finally led him to believe the time was right…
As a proud Republican legislator who stood alone against his party to take a stand against what he sees as discrimination, Koering’s support for reporting on “hypocritical” gay politicians—including Republicans—is certain to send a shockwave through the Washington gay community.
“Somebody who is possibly in the closet and uses their bully pulpit or their position to bash gay people or to make gay people’s lives difficult… and are in essence leading a double life — people like that need to be exposed for the hypocrite that they are,” Koering says.
Koering is well aware coming out may cost him his job.
“The only thing I’m worried about are the 83,000 people that I represent,” he continued. “And I did talk to the chair of the Crowing Country Republicans and he said that the executive committee might consider asking for [my] resignation.”
“I said, I don’t think that would be a good idea on your part,” he added.
Koering says he supports the Defense of Marriage Act Minnesota has on its books, which prevents the state from recognizing gay marriages. But he feels that a constitutional amendment takes things too far. He says legalizing gay marriage at this point would be moving “too fast.”