When it comes to political matters, few issues are black and white. A yes/no answer may fail to address the complexities of a particular question.
In that spirit, and using OutFront Minnesota's survey questions as a guide, Q Monthly asked the major party gubernatorial candidates to provide detailed responses to questions on matters of importance to the GLBT and allied communities. The verbatim responses of DFL candidate Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey and Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura are provided below; Republican candidate Norm Coleman declined to answer Q's repeated requests for a response. -- Joel Hoekstra
1. If elected, will you support the extension of domestic-partner benefits to employees of state, city, and county governments in Minnesota?
Jesse Ventura: I believe that each level of government should decide this issue for themselves. If individual city and county governments decide to extend their benefits to domestic partners, I will support their right to do so. In regard to the state, I believe that we need to recognize some type of legal union, other than marriage, between partners of the same sex. I will leave it to the Legislature to decide what specific benefits or responsibilities would be recognized with the union.
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey: Yes. I support extending benefits to domestic partners and lobbied the Legislature to change the barriers blocking domestic-partner benefits. As state attorney general, I established an office policy allowing gay and lesbian members to use sick leave to care for partners and partner's children or to make arrangements for elder care. In fact, during the 1996 and 1997 legislative sessions, I lobbied for the bill that would allow municipalities to do just that. Members of the GLBT community deserve the same recognition and benefits that all individuals, married couples, and families enjoy.
2. Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student, was recently beaten to death. Many have referred to the act as a hate crime and have called for tougher hate-crime penalties. How might you, as governor, respond to a similar situation in Minnesota?
Jesse Ventura: I would be outraged if this crime occurred in Minnesota. An innocent young man was cut down in the prime years of his life. If this crime had happened here, I would call for prosecution under the full extent of the law with the appropriate sentence. As governor, I will encourage the Legislature to make a change in the sentencing laws. When someone is sentenced to life in prison, it should mean just that, not parole in X number of years. Life in prison should mean life in prison.
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey: I am outraged by the death of Matthew Shepard. If a similar situation arose in Minnesota, I would immediately speak out against such vicious acts of violence as I did after Matthew's death and work with members of the gay and lesbian community to educate Minnesotans.
I don't just want to wait to react to a tragic situation. This issue is about leadership and action. We must also remember that leadership is not about words, leadership is about action. And action is what my more than 20 years of public service have been about. I have practiced what I preach. In my personal and professional life, I have been a tireless advocate of tolerance and acceptance and a relentless fighter of hate and violence. I led the fight for increased hate-crimes penalties in Minnesota and organized Minnesota's first Hate Crimes Summit last May.
Just imagine a Minnesota where gays and lesbians don't live with the specter of intolerance, hate and violence--a Minnesota that acknowledges and celebrates your long-term, loving relationships, just like they celebrate mine. Without a DFL governor who will act on these goals, just as I have acted on them as attorney general, these dreams will remain dreams for another eight years.
3. Reducing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs continues to be an important public-health issue in many communities. What HIV/STD prevention and education efforts would you support as governor?
Jesse Ventura: I fully support the current efforts, particularly using education to inform individuals about the risks of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. At this time I have not drafted any specific proposals for how my administration would address these issues and I would welcome any input from your readers as well as members of the health and education communities.
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey: As attorney general, I have been a strong supporter of HIV/STD prevention and education. As governor, I will continue to support reasonable prevention and education efforts with a goal of eliminating the devastating effects of this disease. Too many precious lives have been cut short, and we will continue the positive efforts made in Minnesota and elsewhere.
4. Do you support gay and lesbian students' right to education and student services in Minnesota?
Jesse Ventura: Yes, but I also support the right of other students to decline to support the gay and lesbian student organizations. I would prefer to see a checkbox system where students could indicate which organizations they are willing to support with their student-service fees. I recognize that some people have deep moral convictions against some things and I think we need to give those people an opportunity to comply with their beliefs. At the same time we need to give groups such as the gay and lesbian students the opportunity to develop any student organizations they wish to.
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey: Absolutely. All students have the right to learn and live in a safe environment that is free from discrimination. As attorney general, I have fought hard to stop discrimination in our schools. I support innovative programs like "Out for Equity" that provide counseling and support services to GLBT youth in our public high schools. As your governor, I will continue to work with schools and organizations to stop discrimination in our schools and in our communities.
5. If elected, would you support or oppose any attempts to repeal a 1993 amendment to the state Human Rights Act protecting gays and lesbians from some types of discrimination?
Jesse Ventura: I would oppose any attempts to repeal the amendment. The 1993 amendment does not give gays and lesbians any special rights, it protects them from discriminatory activities.
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey: As governor, I will adamantly oppose any legislation to repeal the amendment. My opponent Norm Coleman is adamantly committed to turning back the clock to the days when discrimination was acceptable. Coleman will repeal the Human Rights Act and legislate the Christian Coalition right-wing agenda. Discrimination is unacceptable in my book, and I will vigilantly fight to protect the rights of all people from discrimination.
If Norm Coleman is elected, not only will our dreams and goals be jeopardized, but so will the important advances we've made for GLBT rights, We worked too hard and fought for too long to allow this to happen.
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