While protesters outside the Minnesota House chamber chanted against a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a controversial anti-gay pastor opened the session with a prayer that incited outrage from House Democrats, and led to apology from the Republican Speaker.
Bradlee Dean, an Annandale, Minn.-based Christian minister, used his prayer to slam President Barack Obama by implying he was not a Christian.
“I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination, but rather the head of the denomination, and his name is Jesus.
As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name,” he said.
According to a report by Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent, Dean — pastor of the “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International” ministry — has advocated for imprisonment of gays and lesbians, and has said that gay men molest an average of 117 children “before they get caught,” and that Muslim nations that execute gays are more moral than American Christians.
Dean denounced the report and later claimed that Birkey “twisted” his words and that he “never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals.”
A representative for Dean said he “was quoting a study done on gay pedophile (pederasts) and was protecting the children from criminal activity.”
Dean also posted a statement on his website, affirming his stance on homosexuality.
Rep. Karen Clark (D-Minneapolis) said in a statement afterward that Dean’s documented record of hate speech and his presence “reveals the underlying hateful nature of the anti-gay constitutional amendment movement.”
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers apologized for Dean’s appearance and said he had failed to live up to his responsibility to uphold the “decorum and dignity” of the House.
Shortly after, Zellers issued this statement:
“I respectfully apologize to all members in the Minnesota House of Representatives and all citizens of this state for today’s morning prayer. As Speaker of the House, I take responsibility for this mistake. I am offended at the presence of Bradlee Dean on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. I denounce him, his actions and his words. He does not represent my values or the values of this state.”
Dean later said he had no intent to ostracize anybody, and disagreed with the characterization that he is “anti-gay” — and then spoke admiringly of the time when homosexuality was illegal.
“We don’t enforce those laws anymore and we wonder why we are going backwards,” Dean said. “If you were to ask me my position as far as enforcing the laws of sodomy in the state of Minnesota, I would say absolutely yes. Yeah. Yeah.”
A vote on the proposed ballot initiative amendment to ban same-sex marriage appeared less certain after Dean’s appearance, but the House could still take up the issue Friday evening.