When Tim Pawlenty departed the governor’s mansion in 2011, he left Minnesota with a $6.2 billion deficit for the more comforting spreadsheets of Wall Street, where he earned millions lobbying to screw the little guy in most every way imaginable.
Last month he returned home, apparently frozen in time, to contemplate another run for governor. His first major act was to meet with the 100 richest sugar daddies of the GOP. His second was a play straight from the bad old days: Snuggling up with Minnesota’s most virulently anti-gay group.
Next month, Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Family Council’s annual dinner, where a $150 ticket buys proximity to the state’s leading followers of Mean Jesus, the cousin Regular Jesus avoids at family gatherings.
You may remember the Family Council from the dark days of yore. In 2008, it was among the groups behind Pawlenty’s veto of an anti-bullying bill. The only way to stop the “homosexual agenda” from ravaging our schools, their logic went, was to make it safe to beat up gay kids.
The Council also lobbied to exclude sexual orientation from Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, claiming there was no evidence of discrimination against gays. At the same time, it requested a "religious and conscientious objector" clause, in case members wished to do some discriminating of their own.
Yet the group’s finest moment came during the fight for gay marriage, when the Council became a fountain of bad science and blithering idiocy. It claimed queers were prone to pedophilia, bestiality, and even urolagnia, the consumption of urine and feces for sexual pleasure.
Allowing them to marry would undermine freedom and weaken the family, the Council argued. Football coaches and auto mechanics would leave their wives for that cute guy named Marco. The very sky would crash around us.
Despite the imaginative propaganda campaign, gay marriage was legalized in 2013. The Family Council, labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was trampled in its path. Five years later, the sky continues to postpose its scheduled plunge.
Since Pawlenty left, a new GOP has risen, one that only pays lip service to piety-with-a-vengeance. The party’s led by a thrice divorced sexual predator who thinks Jesus is the gardener he fired last week. Even so, overt gay-hating carries a risk in polite company these days.
So the Family Council has toned down its rhetoric. Talk of bestiality and feces eating is on a need-to-know basis. Its new villain is the transgendered. The Council resents being forced to “celebrate… the lie that gender can (and should) be changed like an outfit without consequence.”
Exactly who’s doing this forcing remains unclear. But details never mattered to the Family Council. It’s the fellowship of victimhood that’s important.
These are the arms Pawlenty leaps into as he returns to Minnesota, working his dated game plan: Doing the bidding of rich men, while finding someone to demonize for cheap votes.