Outspoken “Ex-Gay” Campaigns for Minn. Marriage Amendment

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com February 28 2012 4:25 PM ET

An “ex-gay” activist who claims gay people seek to “recruit” young people has joined with a Minnesota state legislator to campaign for an anti–marriage equality amendment to the state’s constitution.

Kevin Petersen, who founded the Pro-Marriage Amendment Forum with state representative Glenn Gruenhagen, coauthor of the amendment, has made several far-fetched statements about LGBT people, reports news website  The American Independent.

During a recent appearance by the two men on  The Late Debate, a Twin Cities–area radio talk show, Petersen said that after winning marriage rights, gay activists will seek to lower the age of consent for sexual relationships. He also made the widely discredited claim that men become gay because they have strong mothers and absent or distant fathers. “He did not put forth a theory of how women become lesbians,” the Independent notes.

Petersen also spoke at an Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting last year on proposed changes to the policy on classroom discussions of sexual orientation in the Minnesota district, which has been accused of providing a hostile environment to LGBT students. He argued against changing the district’s official neutrality policy and said that when he was involved with gay organizations in the 1980s and ’90s, “I was trying to get our agenda into high schools and even elementary schools,” the Independent reports.

He claimed most gay people don’t want to be gay, but activists try to reach “sexually confused people” and convince them “that they can’t possibly change and gay is good.” He added, “What I was doing in effect was recruiting them to be gay and get into the lifestyle. That’s what happened to me when I got into college.”

Petersen says he converted from gay to straight in the mid 1990s with help from “ex-gay” groups. Now married to a woman and the father of three, he has toured widely speaking about his experience, according to the Pro-Marriage Amendment Forum’s website. 

The amendment will go before Minnesota voters in November. While the state already has a statute banning same-sex marriage, bans written into state constitutions are more difficult to overcome.