Another day, another story of hateful bullying by a Republican lawmaker.
Ryan Durant, a former high school classmate of Minnesota Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow, has accused the GOP lawmaker of anti-gay bullying during their school tenure together. Both attended Eagan High School and as part of the class of 1997.
A number of other students have also come forward to corroborate Durant’s allegations. Durant says that Wardlow frequently called him “fag” and “faggot” and even called for violence against gay students. Durant recalls Wardlow telling him “people like you should be shot.”
“I’m bringing this up because people can say people change,” Durant told reporters. “You’re not the same person you were when you were in high school.” However, Durant also says that an examination of Wardlow’s political record reveals that the candidate has not changed.
In 2004, Wardlow apparently blogged about the marriage equality issue while clerking for the Minnesota Supreme Court. “Americans have spoken decisively,” he said of George W. Bush’s reelection. “We do not want the government to secularize our society, we stand together in the common belief that marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman.” Wardlow also worked as a lawyer for an anti-gay Christian group in Arizona, and penned a piece for Fox News condemning the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that allowed for marriage equality.
Furthermore, Durant is not the only former classmate of Wardlow to accuse him of anti-gay harassment. Sarah Beaulieu, another classmate of Durant and Wardlow, says Wardlow often called her “dyke” even though she’s not gay. One of Wardlow’s close friends, Jason Kopp, has corroborated Durant’s allegations and also said he and Wardlow targeted Durant for harassment because of his sexual orientation. Kopp has since apologized for his actions and has come out as a gay man himself. Following a suicide attempt in their sophomore year, Durant also recalls harassment by Wardlow. Upon his return to class following a stay in a mental health ward, Wardlow said to Durant: “What, you couldn’t even get that right?”
Wardlow, for his part, denies all these allegations and has refused to discuss LGBTQ rights on the campaign trail. He also alleges that his opponent in the race, Keith Ellison, has orchestrated this attack on his character.