Gay pride pulls in Democratic candidates and one Republican

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Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans will gather along Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis Sunday for the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. Mayor RT Rybak says the parade is the largest in the city, so it’s no wonder dozens of politicians hit the campaign trail there each year. This weekend four of the five major party candidates for governor will be at Pride, and while one important Republican—Tom Emmer—will be missing, a fellow GOPer is taking the opportunity to show that not all Republicans share views with the religious right.

Candidates for governor will have a high profile at the parade. Democrats Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza have their own spots in the parade, and Margaret Anderson Kelliher will be marching with the Stonewall DFL, which endorsed her at the state Democrats’ convention in April. The campaign of Tom Horner, Independence Party gubernatorial candidate, says they’ll be in the parade as well.

GOP-endorsed candidate Tom Emmer won’t be attending. A campaign spokesman tells the Minnesota Independent he’ll be in Lake City for Lake City Water Ski Days on Sunday.

And though Republicans are generally a rarity at the parade, a GOP-endorsed candidate for House District 60A will proudly be marching this year. Brian Gruber, who is looking to replace Kelliher, says in Minneapolis being a Republican and supporting LGBT rights isn’t that out of the ordinary.

“Most people associate Republicans with the religious right, and while that perception may be true of many of the national and state party leaders, it certainly does not describe myself or a number of the Republicans in Minneapolis,” he told the Minnesota Independent.

He said the pride festival and parade are great events.

“I want to show my support for the LGBT community, and ask for their support as well,” he said. “I have a difficult time understanding why the DFL enjoys such high levels of support from the LGBT community, considering that the DFL has controlled the legislature for the past four years without making any progress on equality issues.”

Brian Gruber, via Facebook

On Monday, Gruber tweeted that he’s “100% behind GLBT equality,” but that stance directly conflicts with the GOP platform (pdf), which is opposed to: a repeal of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy; same-sex marriage and civil unions for LGBT people; and schools teaching or providing resources about – or even discussing – “the topic of family structure, human sexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism.” The GOP’s Emmer is the only candidate for governor opposing gay marriage.

Though Gruber acknowledges he’s taken some flak from some people in the state GOP, he said that locally the party has been supportive.

“I do realize that most people are surprised to see a Republican who supports LGBT equality. The two-party system has had a severe polarizing effect among politicians,” he said. “I am fortunate that the Republicans of Minneapolis were reasonable enough to endorse a candidate who wants to reduce spending and bring careers to Minnesota, while not embracing the traditional conservative social stances.”

On his political philosophy, Gruber says it’s a matter of liberty.

“Each one of us are in the best position to make decisions regarding our personal and private lives,” he said. “The more personal and private a decision, the less the government should be involved.”

He added, “Choosing who you will share your life with is just about as personal a decision as there is.”

Along with Gruber, the Minneapolis City Republican Committee and the Log Cabin Republicans will also be participating in Pride this year.

Other politicians making their mark on the parade with their own contingent are Minneapolis City Council member Diane Hofstede, Mayor Rybak, Hennepin County Commissioners Peter McLaughlin and Gail Dorfman, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Sen. Scott Dibble and Minneapolis school board candidate T Williams.