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Ventura on gay marriage: Civil rights should not be up to popular vote

by Nick Langewis

During a panel discussion on Senator John McCain's recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura strongly disagreed with conservative commentator Pat Buchanan on the issue of voting on fellow citizens' civil rights.

"First of all," Ventura began, "I made a statement when I was Governor and I stand by it today: Love is bigger than government.

"Who the hell are we as a government to tell people who you can fall in love with? I think it's absurd, the fact that it's even being debated."

Ventura proposes a separation of church and state, with across-the-board civil unions at government level, leaving the church as part of the private sector free to sanction marriages.

"It was a foolish decision," Buchanan said of the May 15 ruling handed down by California's Supreme Court, which determined the denial of civil marriage to same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. Massachusetts' 2004 adoption of equal marriage rights, Buchanan opined, helped "kill" Senator John Kerry's presidential bid.

"Barack Obama," Buchanan added, "will say 'marriage should be between a man and a woman.' He will run away from it."

Marriage, being a "cinderblock of society," should be exclusive to heterosexuals, he concluded. "If government wants to set up civil unions and benefits for 'people like that,' it ought to be done by elected legislators, not by unanointed judges who are behaving more and more like tyrants in this country, imposing their values on us."

"If the elected officials will stand up for what's right and do what's right with civil rights, I fully agree with you," Ventura countered. "But you can't put a civil rights issue on the general ballot in a state and let people vote on it, because if you do that, in the southern states before, you can bet they would have voted to continued slavery."

The entire exchange is available to view below. It was broadcast on MSNBC's Verdict with Dan Abrams on May 22, 2008.


Originally published on Sunday May 25, 2008.

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