SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Allen Quist, the Republican candidate for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, is refusing to clarify statements he made Tuesday regarding the state's constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Minnesotans will vote on the amendment on Nov. 6.
The Winona Daily News reports that during a Tuesday campaign stop in Winona, Quist said government should not be make determination on who can marry.
"I was very explicit in saying government should not have a role in whether people choose to marry or not marry," said Quist, "But, government does have a role in defining marriage."
Quist has stated during previous debates and town hall meetings that he supports the marriage amendment and "traditional marriage." In each instance, he followed up by stating he was not interested in discussing the topic because it is a state issue. He said he wants keep the campaign discussion only focused on the federal deficit and how to balance the federal budget.
When asked in an interview on Wednesday to clarify his statements, Quist was unwilling to talk discuss the issue.
"This is purely a state level issue, not a federal issue. I have no involvement in it. I'm not going to talk about it, " said Quist.
When asked to clarify his position with regards to federal legislation or the Defense of Marriage Act, Quist said he had absolutely no interest in discussing the topic. He abruptly ended the interview shortly afterwards.
The Winona Daily News reports that when asked to clarify his position on Tuesday, Quist said his statements were "paradoxical but not contradictory."
Quist's position on homosexuality has been the subject of scrutiny during his pre-primary battle against Mike Parry due to controversial statements he made in the 1980s while serving in the Minnesota Legislature. During that era, Quist compared a gay counseling clinic at Mankato State University to the Ku Klux Klan and stated he went undercover in a Mankato book store because he believed it was a site for homosexual sex. Quist initially denied making these statements early in the campaign, but later publicly admitted to them.
Quist's Democratic opponent incumbent Tim Walz has been outspoken in recent weeks over his opposition to the marriage amendment. On Sept. 26, he helped launch Veterans United, which will tour the state to speak against the amendment. He has also publicly spoke about his support of rights for homosexuals during his congressional campaigns.
Quist and Walz have their final public debate through Debate MN on Tuesday, Oct. 9 in Mankato.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)