What does Senjem election mean for LGBT issues in 2012?


Republicans in the Minnesota Senate elected Rochester Sen. David Senjem as the new Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday after ten hours of deliberation. Senjem will replace former majority leader, Amy Koch, following revelations that she had an inappropriate relationship with one of her employees. Some see a potential for good news in his election for the LGBT community.

“While we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, Senator Senjem has a proven history of willingness to sit down at the table with leaders of the LGBT community to discuss how legislation affects the families of same-gender households,” said David DeGrio, Chair of Stonewall DFL. “I recall visiting with Senator Senjem at a Log Cabin Republican luncheon in September 2008 during the Republican National Convention when LCR announced their endorsement of US Senator John McCain for the GOP Presidential nomination. Productive conversations were had that day on issues important to LGBT people and our families. It is unfortunate that Senator Senjem was not elected to this leadership position before the 2011 legislative session. Had the caucus had the foresight to elect such a leader from the start, I am certain we wouldn’t be facing the divisive constitutional amendment that directly attacks same-gender households.”


Cathy Harrison, Associate Chair of Stonewall DFL, said that Senjem does not have as conservative a record on “In comparison to outgoing leadership, we are happy to see that the new Senate GOP leader has had an historical approval rating between 25% – 67% from LGBT rights groups such as OutFront Minnesota, labor groups such as MAPE and AFSCME Council 5, and reproductive rights groups such as NARAL Pro-choice Minnesota. We can only hope that this is evidence that the Minnesota GOP is returning to a sensible centrist position of governance,” commented . “The leadership of Stonewall DFL looks forward to continued work with our allies at Log Cabin Republicans and the Senate GOP leadership to pass common-sense legislation protecting LGBT households across the state,” concluded Harrison.

Senjem has ranged from 56 percent to 100 percent over the last decade on the Minnesota Family Council’s voter guides.

Gov. Mark Dayton has suggested that Republicans should abandon the effort to have the voters pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment, citing the inappropriate relationship Sen. Koch had with a staffer — even though she is married.

“I think it underscores that sanctity of marriage is important to most Minnesotans and people who are in same-sex relationships believe in that sanctity also and want a chance to participate in the sanctity in the same way as heterosexual couples,” Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio last week.

“I will say, before you take out the speck in your neighbor’s eye, take the log out of your own eye. Somebody whose conduct doesn’t measure up to what they’re professing to believe in or prescribing for others, then they should be called on that”, said Dayton.

Senjem said at a press conference on Tuesday that he wasn’t going to reconsider the amendment.