Governor Scott Walker defended his state’s ban on same-sex marriage by arguing that Wisconsin already grants a “healthy balance” of rights for its LGBT residents through other anti-discrimination laws.
During an interview that aired Sunday, Walker suggested the U.S. House should pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“In Wisconsin, we’ve had anti-discriminatory laws that are very similar to [ENDA] for more than 30 years and they work quite effectively. We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman,” Walker told Bloomberg TV host Al Hunt. “We’ve had no problems… I should say, limited problems with that.”
“At the same time, we have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage. There’s a healthy balance there,” he added.
In 1982, former Wisconsin Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus signed the nation’s first statewide gay rights law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education and public accommodations.
But the right to marry hasn’t been extended to LGBT individuals in that state, at least yet; in 2006, Wisconsin voters approved a ban on same-sex unions in a 59% to 41% vote.
Walker shied away from anwering any questions about social issues at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast held last Friday. Governors should “focus on the things that matter most to people, and those are fiscal and economic issues,” he told reporters.
When pressed about marriage equality, Walker said the topic hasn’t been an issue in recent years.
“For me, it’s simple,” he said. “It’s not that I’m hiding some secret agenda; just as governor, [same-sex marriage] is not a focal point in my state.”