With the new Legislature sworn into session on Tuesday, one new official is coming under scrutiny for opinions he’s shared in the letters pages of local newspapers. Republican Glenn Gruenhagen, elected to the Minnesota House in November to represent Glencoe after Rep. Laura Brod retired, has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee. His controversial public statements about welfare, anal sex, abortion and alcoholism – areas the committee oversees – could make for interesting political theater in the months ahead.
The HHS committee deals with the state’s safety net programs – programs Gruenhagen has compared to prostitution schemes, as Bluestem Prairie reported after his GOP endorsement in May.
“Government run welfare programs are little more than a government subsidized prostitution program paying extra money to women who have children out of wedlock,” he wrote. “This has contributed to over a 70% out of wedlock birth rate for Americans with an African heritage. Also, welfare provides financial support to able bodied men instead of incentives for an honest days [sic] work.”
On abortion and substance abuse, two health issues the committee will deal with, Gruenhagen has been vocal about his beliefs.
“The pro-death abortion crowd continually attempts to lie to themselves and the American people that unborn children are not really human,” he wrote in a letter to the Hutchinson Leader. “Of course, medical science has completely proven them wrong, but just like the blind leading the blind, they continue to regurgitate the mantra of Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party.”
Labeling alcoholism and drug addiction as a disease is not only medically inaccurate (since there is no germ or gene), it also sends a false message to the abuser that they are a victim rather than to accept some level of personal responsibility for their abuse and behavior. In addition, it sends the completely wrong message to our young people about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drug abuse.
I voluntarily participated in Gideon International jail ministry with local prisoners for over 13 years. One of the questions I routinely asked prisoners was “how many of you were on alcohol or illegal drugs when you were arrested?” The answer was almost always the same: over 90 percent said “yes.” By the way, you won’t get a DWI for driving with cancer.
Labeling alcoholism and drug addiction as a disease is a recent trend and is bad for both the addicted and the non-addicted. It is rooted in a false psychological medical philosophy that everyone is a victim when it comes to wrong and bad behavior.
The HHS committee’s purview includes sex education and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Gruenhagen has taken a particular interest in sodomy, defined by Minnesota statute as “carnally knowing any person by the anus or by or with the mouth.”
In the Hutchinson Leader, he wrote:
Many have great concern for our country as we have drifted from the Judeo-Christian principles which gave us our liberties and freedoms, into the religion of atheism, such as the belief in abortion, pornography, sodomy as an orientation, evolution, etc. The corruption of atheistic values in our schools and government institutions leaves open the door for a foreign religious value system to influence our country’s culture.
He elaborated in a letter to the Glencoe News:
The primary purpose of my letters to the editor has been to alert the public to the danger of the homosexual agenda, which is the full acceptance and legitimizing of their lifestyle in every aspect of our society. One of their first objectives is to mandate the teaching of this very destructive behavior as normal to the children in our public schools and eventually in all schools.
We, as citizens, need to encourage our social workers, public health nurses, medical professionals, pastors, lawyers and political leaders in our community and state, to oppose this agenda and protect our children from the destructive and confusing influence of homosexuality.
It comes down to this: If you don’t believe that we should be teaching sodomy as a normal behavior to our children, it is time to stand up and say something publicly and voice your dissent before the legal door is closed through hate crimes legislation. . . .
As Bluestem Prairie notes, Gruenhagen tried to get a resolution passed at the Minnesota School Board Association to have what he calls “sodomy as an orientation” banned from schools:
BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE MINNESOTA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION URGES THE LEGISLATURE TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION PROHIBITING THE TEACHING OF SODOMY AS AN ORIENTATION TO OUR CHILDREN IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, AT AN AGE APPROPRIATE LEVEL, STUDENTS SHOULD BE TAUGHT THE PUBLIC HEALTH RISKS AND THE MEDICAL FACTS OF THE PRACTICE OF SODOMY, WHETHER PRACTICED BETWEEN TWO MEN, OR A MAN AND A WOMAN. ANY CURRICULUM WHICH PRESENTS INDIVIDUALS WHO PRACTICE THE MEDICALLY PROVEN UNHEALTHY BEHAVIOR OF SODOMY IN A SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE CONTEXT SHALL BE PROHIBITED IN THE CLASSROOM. STUDENTS WILL ALSO BE TAUGHT THAT IT IS COMPASSIONATE AND IN ACCORD WITH OUR PUBLIC HEALTH LAWS TO HELP PEOPLE STOP A BEHAVIOR THAT SPREADS SICKNESS, DISEASE, PAIN, SUFFERING AND DEATH. THERE IS NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT WHICH GIVES PEOPLE THE FREEDOM TO PRACTICE BEHAVIOR THAT SPREADS INFECTIOUS DISEASES. WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD PUBLIC HEALTH LAWS IN OUR COUNTRY.
Gruenhagen’s tenacity at bringing up these contentious religious-based issues in his capacity as a school board member prompted five members of the Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board to issue a letter to the editor of the McLeod County Chronicle. There can be little doubt that on the HHS committee he will be as vocal.
With regularity, Mr. Gruenhagen inserts his own biases into school board meetings with not the least provocation. Abortion, homosexuality, safe sex, evolution and countless other topics that do not appear on the school board’s agenda are brought to the fore, repeatedly, and forced onto unsuspecting school board members, administrators and individuals in the viewing audience.
To do so is rude, a violation of school board decorum, a waste of attendees’ time and a disruption in the flow of otherwise quality public meetings.
The school board is tired of Mr. Gruenhagen’s inappropriate behavior and is intent that, over time, repeated actions on his part will not be met with sympathy, understanding, patience and tolerance, as they have in the past.
Gruenhagen has not responded to the Minnesota Independent’s interview request. The Minnesota Independent asked several social service and reproductive health organizations for comment on Gruenhagen, but most said they’d sit back and wait to see how the session unfolds.