GOP gubernatorial hopefuls won’t try to repeal marriage law

The two declared Republican candidates for governor say they will not push to repeal the new law that allows same-sex couples to marry in Minnesota.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Orono businessman Scott Honour say they'll focus on bread and butter fiscal issues if they defeat DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014.

"I think Minnesotans are ready to talk about something other than gay marriage for a change," Johnson wrote in an e-mail. "I would not push to repeal the new law, although if something landed on my desk supporting traditional marriage I would sign it."

Johnson told reporters after he announced his campaign for governor that he supports marriage defined as between one man and one woman. He added that he didn't think Republicans who voted for the law to legalize same-sex marriage should be punished for their vote.

Honour said when he announced that he did not support same-sex marriage but could support civil unions. Now that the same-sex marriage bill has been signed into law, Honour's senior adviser says Honour isn't focusing on it.

"The Minnesota Senate will have a pro-gay marriage majority until at least 2017, so a repeal bill would go absolutely nowhere," wrote Pat Shortridge, senior adviser to Honour. "Political symbolism will not be a prominent feature of Scott's time as governor. Results will."

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Both Shortridge and Johnson said the focus of the campaigns will be on taxes and spending and making changes to the state's education system.

Honour and Johnson are the only two major Republicans who have officially announced their campaigns for governor.

Several members of the Legislature, including Sen. Dave Thompson, Sen. Julie Rosen, Sen. David Hann and Rep. Kurt Zellers, are considering a run. All of them voted against the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council, told MPR News last week that his organization would focus on backing candidates that will repeal the law.