Congressional candidate Allen Quist said Tuesday that government shouldn’t be involved in the gay marriage debate, one week after he declared his support for a proposed state constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to between a man and woman.
“I think that government does not have a role in whether people should get married or not,” Quist said at a public event in Winona.
His words directly conflict with a statement the Republican, running against U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in the 1st District, sent the Daily News last week detailing his position on the state’s proposed marriage amendment.
“I support the marriage amendment because for over a thousand years, Western culture has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” he said in the statement. “I don’t see a compelling reason to change that definition.”
Quist said in a subsequent interview Tuesday that the two statements are “paradoxical but not contradictory.”
“I was very explicit in saying government should not have a role in whether people choose to marry or not marry,” Quist said. “But government does have a role in defining marriage.”
Quist said he values the tradition of marriage between a man and a woman.
“I am very reluctant to give up traditions without compelling reasons,” Quist said, adding that the arguments against the marriage amendment are “not compelling enough, in my judgment.”
Quist said the marriage amendment has not been a focus of his campaign, since it is a state issue and he is running for federal office.
“I know this is a really important issue to a lot of people, it’s not, you know, to me, it’s not even on the back burner,” Quist said. “It’s back there so far I can hardly see it. It’s just not a concern of mine.”
But he said if the issue ever came before Congress, he would vote to keep marriage between one man and one woman.
Quist’s statement comes as Minnesota residents prepare to vote Nov. 6 on the proposed amendment. It also comes a week after Walz announced the formation of Veterans United, about 100 members including Walz who plan to travel the state between now and Nov. 6 advocating against the amendment.
Quist was touring the 1st District Tuesday to discuss a claim Walz made at a Sept. 27 debate accusing Quist of saying he wanted to cut veterans’ benefits. Quist is calling on Walz to retract that statement and formally apologize. Walz’s campaign has refused.
“Tim Walz will never apologize for fighting for veterans and their families,” said communications director Tony Ufkin in a statement Tuesday. “This isn’t about Mr. Quist’s feelings. Tim Walz has a strong bipartisan record of standing up for the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.”