A Republican lawmaker from Glencoe, Minn., founded a group that created a video that claims there’s an enzyme in sperm that causes AIDS, that gay men die at an average age of 41, that HIV is transmitted casually, and that the United Nations is responsible for making sodomy legal. Those claims are all offered in opposition to an anti-bullying bill poised to pass the Minnesota Legislature.
The Pro-Marriage Amendment Forum, a group created in 2011 by Republican Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, and “ex-gay” activist Kevin Peterson, has crafted a video called “Sodomy, Health, Money, and HF-826.”
“Sodomy, Health, Money, and HF-826″ targets HF 826, the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, which aims to make Minnesota’s anti-bullying laws stronger. The video produced by Gruenhagen and Peterson makes claims that contradict sound public health science. TheColu.mn made requests for comment to both Gruenhagen and Peterson, but were not returned.
The video was first discovered by Bluestem Prairie who reported that a Republican candidate for the State House has been distributing it among activists. In fact, it appears that at least one activist aired the program on public access television in the Twin Cities area.
In the first segment of the video, the unnamed narrator claims that the United Nations was responsible for the overturning of sodomy laws in the United States.
“In Lawrence vs Texas, the court used international law to interpret the U.S. Constitution discovering a new constitutional right to engage in homosexual conduct. Lawrence was not the first time the court had used international law to interpret our constitution so it is the United Nations that is intent on stealing our nation’s sovereignty and overturning our state laws from you.”
The narrator takes the viewer on an in-depth and fact-challenged lesson on the human reproductive cycle and then makes the claim that AIDS is caused by an enzyme in sperm entering the digestive system.
“When sperm enters the digestive system, it is quickly absorbed into the blood. It is the enzyme in the sperm that causes the immune system to fail. AIDS stand for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.“
He continues, “Sodomy is a voluntary act to destroy the immune system that protects us from disease, various cancers and other health issues.”
Contrary to the claims in the video, HIV universally recognized by the medical community as causing AIDS.
In the second segment, the narrator claims that gay men die at an average age of 41.
“Do you really want to spread it further in Minnesota?” the narrator asks. “The sodomite lifestyle is a voluntarily slow complicated suicide.”
But, even in using flawed data, the PMA Forum was inaccurate with the use of data. Cameron put the average age of death at 42 not 41.
In the next segment, the narrator says that the phrase “sexual orientation” and the words “gay, lesbian and bisexual” cause the same reaction in children as watching pornography.
“The promotion of sodomy in the classroom is getting more and more intense and deceptive as we will soon see,” the narrator added. “How is teaching sodomy as involuntary and normal behavior safe for children? It is not.”
The video continues with an inaccurate discussion of the transmission of HIV.
Later, the narrator added, “The gay agenda only recognizes the religion of humanism or atheism.”
The claims made in the video are incorrect. According to virtually every private and public institution focusing on HIV including the Centers for Disease Control, AIDS.gov, and National Center for Biotechnology Information, HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, tears or sweat.
The narrator added, “The practice of sodomy is spreading death, blame-shifting it to someone else after the child dies is too late. Now is the time to act.”
Then he says, “Even a few years ago, how many parents thought sodomy would be legalized and mandated to be taught it is a safe, normal sexual behavior? However horrible you may think things are, the situation is much, much worse. In the name of health, children are systematically being reprogrammed and stolen from you to serve the government, the rich, and elite. Only you can stop this assault. The children and your freedom are at stake.”
Much like the Minnesota Child Protection League, the PMA Forum believes that somehow an anti-bullying bill will mandate sexual health education material be used in schools.
The roots of PMA Forum
Gruenhagen has a long history speaking out against sodomy which he often conflates with the LGBT community.
In 1993, Gruenhagen, an insurance agency manager at the time, explained his views on homosexuality, according to Star Tribune archives.
“Sodomy – whether practiced between a man and a woman or two men – is wrong,” Gruenhagen said. “It’s a medically proven unhealthy lifestyle. When you know the medical facts about sodomy, you would not practice it. It’s wrong. That’s why we have a state law against the practice of sodomy.”
As the blog, Bluestem Prairie notes, Gruenhagen tried to get a resolution passed at the Minnesota School Board Association to have what he calls “sodomy as an orientation” banned from schools:
In an April 17, 2002 letter to the Jordan Independent, Gruenhagen lamented the research of Dr. Alfred Kinsey: “He also believed that 10 percent of the population was homosexual, and that homosexuality (sodomy) should be classified as a sexual orientation and not as an unhealthy perversion and psychological disorder.”
On Feb. 17, 2004, the Hutchinson Leader published a letter from Gruenhagen that read: “[T]he practice of sodomy is an addictive, sexual perversion that spreads sickness, disease, pain, suffering and death, whether practiced by heterosexuals or homosexuals. The public health laws in our country have always prohibited sodomy because of the medical consequences. It is a historical fact that all 13 colonies had laws against sodomy, even for married heterosexuals.”
Despite these claims, he was elevated to the Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board by the voters. In fact, he garnered the most votes of any candidate in that race.
In another letter to the Hutchinson Leader, published on Jan. 30, 2007, Gruenhagen lamented “sodomy as orientation.”
Gruenhagen was endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota in 2010 and won election to the Minnesota House.
On Oct. 17, 2011, Gruenhagen and Peterson founded the PMA Forum and began to tour the state arguing against marriage equality for same-sex couples, according to an archived copy of the group’s website.
In a letter to the editor of the Winthrop News published on Oct. 24, 2012, resident Dana Melius was embarrassed by Gruenhagen’s PMA Forum presentation.
“During my first exposure to Gruenhagen at a ‘Pro-Marriage Amendment’ forum in Waconia, he labeled gays and lesbians as ‘unhealthy sexual perverts’… for a sitting legislator to cast such hurtful, discriminatory and misguided words at an open public forum is not just embarrassing, it’s disgusting.”
With the defeat of the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2012 and the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in 2013, Gruenhagen’s PMA Forum has switched gears to battle stronger anti-bullying laws in Minnesota. The group is targeting HF 826, the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.
Republican activists have been circulating PMA Forum’s video around Minnesota. On such activist is Bob Frey, a candidate for the Minnesota House.
Bluestem Prairie was the first to report on Frey and the video:
Long an associate of anti-sodomy crusader Representative Glenn Gruenhagen, Frey serves as Gruenhagen’s campaign committee chair. Gruenhagen and Frey led Citizens For Academic Excellence, a group that fretted about historical documents being altered and the evils of school-to-work, multiculturalism, diversity and violence prevention.
His son Mike Frey, pastor of the Northern Light Baptist Church, serves as Frey’s campaign committee chair; the pastor testified against marriage equality last year in testimony called “outrageously inaccurate” by the Huffington Post.
Despite Gruenhagen’s anti-LGBT advocacy, he’s been endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota for reelection in 2014.