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Legislator/war hero John Kriesel named Lavender Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’

Freshman state Rep.

Freshman state Rep. John Kriesel, a Republican from Cottage Grove, has been named Person of the Year by Lavender Magazine, a gay publication.

Kriesel was honored for speaking out against his own party’s push to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 that, if approved by voters, would ban gay marriage.

Kriesel lost both legs while serving in Iraq in 2006; he was elected to the House in 2010. He and Jim Kosmo wrote a book, “Still Standing,” about his war experiences,

Lavender magazine asked Kriesel why he bucked his party on the gay marriage issue. His response:

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I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. When I got elected, the way I thought, the way I looked at things changed. Not to mention, when I got hurt in Iraq, everything changed. I realized that now I just wasn’t making decisions that affected my wife and my two sons. I had to (now) make decisions that reflect not only the best interests of the (approximately) 40,000 people in my district, but the greater good of the state.

At that time I didn’t know anybody that was gay. I didn’t have any gay friends. I’ve gained some now. But you have to put yourself in their situation. I would be so — not angry as much, but just hurt, devastated, if the government said, you can be with your wife, but you can’t marry her. You can’t share that. I just don’t get it.

And when I said, I wonder what that would be like, that’s when I said: there is no way. We can’t let this happen. And I think I was naive enough to think it wasn’t going to come up during session. And was hopeful it wasn’t going to come up during session. But once I was convinced that it was, I wanted to make it known right from the start where I stood. There wasn’t going to be any goofin’ around. And I said here’s where I’m at and I’m not moving. Here’s why I’m where I’m at.

And in the interview, he addressed one of the objections to gay marriage:

I get tired of the whole ‘protecting marriage’ thing. I am actually pretty confident that my marriage is just fine. So if Bob and Bill are a married couple and they move next door, they’re not going to affect my marriage. And if Jane and Sue are right next door on the other side, they’re not going to affect my marriage. That’s the beauty of America. Whatever makes you happy, as long as it’s not physically harming other people, have at it.

 Kriesel tweeted today about his Person of the Year selection:

I want to thank @lavmag for selecting me as Person of the Year for 2011! I feel very honored.