Pawlenty Struggles To Explain Why He Opposes Marriage Equality

July 25, 2011 5:19 pm ET — Carlos Maza

GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty had a surprisingly tough time explaining why he opposes marriage equality during the July 24 edition of CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley. While discussing New York’s recent vote to legalize same-sex marriage, Crowley pressed Pawlenty to explain what harm was caused by allowing loving, committed gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot:

CROWLEY: I’m just wondering if you see that there has been harm to Iowa, to the state of Iowa, or will there be harm to the state of New York because they’ve legalized gay marriage.

PAWLENTY: Well, I wouldn’t phrase it that way. In the sense that -- I think there’s just a difference of opinion about whether all domestic relationships are, in the eyes of the law and otherwise, going to be the same as traditional marriage. I don’t think they should be. 

Notice how Pawlenty avoided actually explaining why same-sex marriages shouldn’t be treated as equal to “traditional” marriages.

Pawlenty began to flesh out his argument later in the interview, explaining that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry has “practical effects” because, traditionally, “children are born and raised” by parents of the opposite sex.

He seemed to be making the typical anti-gay “kids need a mom and a dad” argument: an argument that has already been debunked by pretty much every major medical organization in the U.S. As soon as Crowley pressed him on his position, however, Pawlenty backtracked:

PAWLENTY: I’m not saying there can’t be single parents and there obviously are single parents who are wonderful parents. I’m just saying we want to maintain traditional marriage elevated in the eyes of the law and in our society. It is not the same as other domestic relationships.

Again, notice how he fails to actually mention why “traditional” marriages should be “elevated” above the relationships of gay and lesbian couples.

Near the end of the segment, Pawlenty made one final attempt to explain his position:

PAWLENTY: To me, the idea that we’re going to have traditional marriage be viewed in the eyes of the law and society as being no different from other domestic relationships I think is a bad idea. We want traditional marriage to remain elevated legally and socially.

CROWLEY: Because?

PAWLENTY: Because it plays an obvious and unique role in our culture and our society.

CROWLEY: Man and a woman having a child is what you’re talking about.

PAWLENTY: Of course. I mean, of course. And a man and a woman in relationship. To say that that is somehow the equal of all other possible domestic relationships defies common sense, Candy.

Pawlenty’s final explanation does not rise to the level of a serious justification for denying loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. In Iowa, New York and the four other states (plus D.C.) that have embraced marriage equality, heterosexuals have continued, are continuing, and will continue to get married and have children together, regardless of whether gays and lesbians are allowed to get married too.

The GOP hopeful’s inability to articulate a good reason for opposing same-sex marriage hasn’t stopped him from opposing LGBT equality. Pawlenty has already made clear that he would support a federal marriage amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. As the governor of Minnesota, he even vetoed a bill that would have allowed widowed gays and lesbians to execute their deceased partners’ funeral wishes, arguing (unsurprisingly) that marriage between a man and a woman should be “elevated in our society at a special level.”

When rational people realize they can’t explain their bigoted personal beliefs, they change those beliefs. When Tim Pawlenty realizes it, he asserts it’s “common sense” and moves on.


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