Today former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced that he is exploring a Presidential run. In his announcement video, he presents a folksy midwest charm and extols the “brave men and women throughout this country’s history that have asked for nothing more than the freedom to work hard and get ahead without government getting in the way.” But when it comes to LGBT folks and their families, Pawlenty’s actions don’t live up to his lofty rhetoric. Below are eight things you should know about Pawlenty’s record on LGBT issues:
1. Pawlenty proudly opposes recognition of any same-sex unions: In a recent interview on FOX News, he told Greta Van Susteren that he will “never be at the point where I say all domestic relationship[s] are the same as traditional marriage. They are not.” He similarly bragged to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer in January about helping to craft a same-sex marriage ban in Minnesota. As part of his recent tour of speeches in Iowa, he also endorsed The Family Leader, a conservative group who promotes the idea that same-sex marriage is worse for people’s health than smoking.
2. Pawlenty supports maintaining Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, rescinding funding to implement its repeal, and perhaps not allowing gays and lesbians to serve at all: In January, he stated he would support reinstating the policy and that doing so would have no impact. Then, in February, he added that he would support rescinding the funding for its repeal as “a reasonable step.” He also refused to indicate whether he thinks gay and lesbian troops should have the right to serve in the military whatsoever.
3. Pawlenty regrets his vote as a state legislator supporting nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity: Citing its protection of “cross-dressing” and how confusing it would be for third-graders if Mr. Johnson showed up the next day as Mrs. Johnson, Pawlenty lamented his 1993 vote in support of the antidiscrimination law, earning the ire of LGBT groups for his distasteful remarks.
4. Pawlenty vetoed a bill extending end-of-life rights to same-sex couples: As a result of his veto, same-sex couples in Minnesota still have to go through the process of setting up a will to be protected if one partner dies. In addition, same-sex couples continue to be limited in the ability to seek restitution for wrongful death.
5. Pawlenty vetoed an anti-bullying bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Minnesota’s bullying policies and training: Despite numerous concessions made to get the governor’s support, he still vetoed the bill, claiming it was redundant and ignoring the new protections it offered the state’s LGBT students.
6. In 2001, Pawlenty opposed labor unions’ efforts to offer benefits to employees’ same-sex partners: The controversy led to a union strike in the fall of 2001, and then in February of 2003, the unions were forced to accept a compromise that stripped benefits from 85 same-sex partners who had previously been receiving them. [Star Tribune, 10/4/2001 and 2/18/03]
7. Pawlenty vetoed a bill allowing local municipalities in Minnesota to offer domestic partner benefits: The bill would have allowed cities, counties, and school districts to offer domestic partner benefits in the same way more than 300 private companies already do in the state.
8. Pawlenty vetoed a bill allowing state employees to use their accrued sick leave to take care of seriously ill family members: Domestic partners were removed from the bill in hopes that it would prevent a veto, but Pawlenty vetoed it anyway, stating that it would cost too much.