The political future of a Republican Minnesota state lawmaker is in the hands of the state's house
ethics committee, which took testimony in a complaint over comments he made that offended some gay people and African-Americans. State legislators filed the complaint last month and tried during a hearing Monday to persuade committee members to censure Rep. Arlon Lindner and remove him as chairman of the economic development and tourism committee.
The hearing was in response to Lindner's comments questioning whether--or the extent to which--gays and lesbians were persecuted during the Nazi Holocaust. Lindner is sponsoring a bill that would remove state civil rights protections for gay men and lesbians. He drew further criticism when, in discussing the legislation, he also suggested that removing those protections would combat AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and help keep the United States from becoming "another African continent."
The house members who filed the complaint said Lindner's words violated house rules prohibiting conduct that "violates accepted norms of house behavior" and "tends to bring the house into dishonor or disrepute." In a packed hearing room, they asked the committee to strip Lindner's chairmanship and censure him. A censure is a collective reprimand. Short of an expulsion, it's the most serious form of discipline the house can impose on a member. The committee recessed until a future date to give themselves time to sift through evidence.
"You know I am a committed, consistent conservative," Lindner said Monday. "You also know I am a Christian. Once again I am brought before this panel, and once again, as a Christian, I hold no bitterness." He said homosexuality conflicts with his religious views but that the charge of racism is baseless. "I, like many Christians, believe that God has given us the Bible as our guide for living," he said.