Former Minnesota Governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty defended his views against gay marriage, saying traditional marriage is special for obvious reasons.
“I don't think all domestic relationships are the same as traditional marriage,” Pawlenty said on CNN. “Marriage between a man and a woman is something that should remain elevated socially, culturally, and practically, legally, morally in our society.”
Pawlenty, an evangelical, also said that traditional marriage is special socially, legally, and culturally for “obvious reasons” having to do with “procreation” and “raising children.”
“I'm not at the point, nor will I ever be at the point where I'm going to say, 'You know what? That really is not special, that's not any different than any other domestic relationships that we can imagine or assemble.' I don't buy that at all,” he said.
When pressed on the question of whether allowing state sanctioned gay marriage would be harmful to society, the former governor responded, “I think society devalues traditional marriage by saying all other domestic relationships are the same as traditional marriage, you then dilute and devalue traditional marriage.”
The interview came after Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Friday that each state should decide the issue of gay marriage for themselves. “That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me,” Perry said about New York's new law allowing same-sex marriage. Perry is expected to enter the presidential race around mid-August.
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When asked if gay marriage is something that presidents should even concern themselves with or be left to the states, Pawlenty answered, “Clearly the main focus for the country right now is the economy, and jobs, and our finances, but if you're going to be President of the United States, you got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time and address lots of different issues.
“So these issues of being pro-family, or pro-traditional marriage, being pro-life, are important, and they are important to me.”
Ironically, as Pawlenty was questioned on whether the president should even be addressing the issue of same-sex marriage, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) was discussing, on another Sunday talk show, a bill she introduced in the Senate that would repeal a federal law allowing each state to decide the issue. The Respect for Marriage Act, the bill is called, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law and says that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. If the Defense of Marriage Act were repealed, a gay couple from a state that does not allow same-sex marriage could get a marriage license from a state that does allow same-sex marriage and their home state might have to recognize that marriage. This would effectively make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
Pawlenty has struggled to gain ground in the presidential race. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the frontrunner and has raised more than four times as much money, with nearly $20 million, as Pawlenty. Most of the media spotlight, in the meantime, has been on Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is a close second in national polls and is leading in Iowa.
Pawlenty received some much needed good news, however, in a straw poll from Ohio on Friday.
About 600 people attended the Ohio Republican party's state dinner. When asked who they would support for president, Mitt Romney received the most votes at 25 percent. Pawlenty was second place, though, with 16 percent. Bachmann and Perry were close behind with 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The straw poll suggests that Pawlenty still has a significant base of support among party leaders.