Garrison Keillor Explains Decision to Lend Support to Marriage Amendment Foes
This is part two of a two-part interview.
Some Minnesotans can't imagine a Saturday night without a visit to Lake Wobegon.
When Garrison Keillor is presiding over "A Prairie Home Companion," he usually keeps the humor, and the stories, controversy-free.
But that's not always the case in his real life.
Keillor talked with 5 Eyewitness News about his decision to take a very public role in Minnesota's contentious marriage amendment campaign.
But first--are they talking about it at Lake Wobegon?
Keillor the humorist pauses, and says, "It's been a summer of drought, and the growing season has been hard on apples. And that's hit people hard. Apples are the one of the great pleasures of life, the honey crisp comes from here, which is a fabulous eating apple.
"These things are important, these things are more important to them than the election and constitutional amendments and all of that.
"It's apples," he continues. "Apples."
Yet Keillor the citizen, a man who help define Minnesota to the world, IS talking politics.
"I didn't like the tone or the feeling of the constitutional amendment," he says. "It seemed punitive. It seemed unnecessary."
And so, he lent his name to Minnesotans United For All Families, the pro-gay marriage group trying to defeat the amendment.
"Love trumps government, and government should not stand in the way of people who love each other," he said.
Nearly 1,000 people donated money to the "vote no" campaign in hopes of winning a coffee date with Keillor. He also promises to record an original outgoing voice mail message for the winner. "That will amuse some people, and confuse others," he says.
Keillor says he only lent support because he was asked. "If you say 'no, I won't' you should have some reason for turning them down and so I said 'sure, of course'."
Yet this storyteller has a storied history of politicking. He publicly supported Barack Obama four years ago, and does again now. He urged Al Franken to run for the U.S. Senate, and he repeatedly sparred with Jesse Ventura, once likening the former wrestler's political rise to a company janitor being promoted to CEO.
"But when Jesse Ventura came out against the amendment, then I really, I read his letter and then I understood what it was all about," Keillor says. "Jesse said it better than I ever could. I really admired him for coming out the way he did."
As for the other news from up north, "I've been working on a screenplay about Lake Wobegon," Keillor says.
It's five years in the making.
"The problem with being a perfectionist is you keep going back and revising the first page," he explains.
The producers behind the movie version of "A Prairie Home Companion" want to see a finished script.
They're waiting patiently for me to put this thing in a manila envelope and mail it off to them," he says. So is he going to set a deadline for himself? "No.I'm on a treadmill. I just keep pushing the rock up the hill and it keeps rolling back down."
After all, first things first. He's got that voice mail to record for that contest winner--a man from Warroad, Minnesota, way up north. Minnesotans United for all Families says Keillor's involvement raised $4,000 for their campaign--not a huge amount, but he only asked for $3 donations.
The group Minnesota for Marriage, which supports the amendment, had no comment about Keillor's role, when asked by 5 Eyewitness News.
"Savor this time of year," Keillor says Garrison Keillor, the Minnesotan. But not for the politics, for the "warm days and the cool nights, air that's like wine. The pleasure of September in Minnesota is one reason we can endure all the rest of it."
In part one of this interview, Keillor talks about the future of "A Prairie Home Companion."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
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