ST. PAUL -- An emotional Sen. Paul Koering, prompted in part by last week's procedural vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, announced Wednesday he was gay.
The Fort Ripley Republican, who defeated then-Senate President Don Samuelson on the third try in 2002, said inquiries about his sexual preference were taking up an increasing amount of his time. The questions were starting to hamper his efforts to guide his teacher mentoring bill and other important legislation through the Senate. He said he wanted to put the issue to rest with an announcement.
"I've always felt like my personal life is just that -- personal," he said in an interview in the State Office Building. "I don't feel like I ever lied to anyone. I never deceived anyone."
Koering, 40, said on the rare occasion someone asked him if he was gay, he told them the truth. The first-term lawmaker said that although a certain number of people speculated he might be gay -- very few asked him directly.
The former dairy farmer, who drew headlines by using a wooden club to scare off two would-be robbers from his Brainerd liquor store in mid-February, said he planned to run for re-election to the District 12 Senate seat, even if he faces opposition from within the GOP.
"I'm going to run for re-election," Koering said. "I'm going to give it all I've got."
Koering admitted he would be breaking new ground running as an outstate, gay Republican but said he would not switch parties.
"The Republican Party I know is a big tent," he said, but then posed a rhetorical question. "Is the Republican big tent in Senate District 12 big enough to have them endorse me."
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