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Pawlenty: gay relationships not ‘equivalent of traditional marriage’

Pawlenty: gay relationships not ‘equivalent of traditional marriage’

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, widely regarded as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, seems to be clarifying past positions, lest he be mistaken for supporting LGBTQ rights.

Tim PawlentyIn a recent interview with Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, Pawlenty expresses his regret for having voted in favor of a 1993 state bill, the first of its kind in the nation, that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The full interview appears in the January 4, 2010 print edition of Newsweek. Here are a few notable excerpts:

Newsweek: I know you are opposed to gay marriage, but what about medical benefits for same-sex couples?
Pawlenty: I have not supported that.

Why not?

My general view on all of this is that marriage is to be defined as being a union of a man and a woman. Marriage should be elevated in our society at a special level. I don’t think all domestic relationships are the equivalent of traditional marriage. Early on we decided as a country and as a state that there was value in a man and a woman being married in terms of impact on children and the like, and we want to encourage that.

To borrow a phrase, have your views evolved over time?
In 1993 I voted for a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodation, housing, and employment. That was 16 years ago.

Yes, gay-rights activists regarded you as a pretty cool guy at the time.

We overbaked that statute, for a couple of reasons. If I had to do it over again I would have changed some things.

That statute is not worded the way it should be. I said I regretted the vote later because it included things like cross-dressing, and a variety of other people involved in behaviors that weren’t based on sexual orientation, just a preference for the way they dressed and behaved. So it was overly broad. So if you are a third-grade teacher and you are a man and you show up on Monday as Mr. Johnson and you show up on Tuesday as Mrs. Johnson, that is a little confusing to the kids. So I don’t like that.

Has the law been changed?
No. It should be, though.

So you want to protect kids against cross-dressing elementary-school teachers. Do you have any in Minnesota?

Probably. We’ve had a few instances, not exactly like that, but similar.

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