Pawlenty in Iowa: American society must ‘elevate traditional marriage’
IOWA CITY — Nearly every public policy issue that can be named has a direct impact on the very foundation of American society, according to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, which is a traditional marriage consisting of one man and one woman.
Pawlenty, who told reporters before his public remarks on Monday that he is definitely “leaning toward” at 2012 presidential run, spoke on a litany of issues ranging from the economy to freedom of religion to education to health care, bringing each one back to his primary focus on the family. The remarks were made on the University of Iowa campus at the first of many lecture events featuring national conservatives hosted by The Family Leader, a state-run advocacy group that acts as an umbrella organization for the Iowa Family Policy Center and the formerly federally funded Marriage Matters.
Pawlenty began his public remarks by discussing why he believes the U.S. is a Christian nation.
“That isn’t just my editorial comment,” he said. “It’s in our founding documents.”
The basis of Pawlenty’s remarks before the public, however, were laid out to members of the press during an advance availability.
“Of course, this being for this organization (The Family Leader), these remarks will focus on things that support, maintain and enhance the family’s role in our society and culture,” Pawlenty said. “People in public office who are responsible for developing public policy have a key leadership role and responsibility to play that in regard.
“All of us, of course, have memories and a background of our individual family situations, but more broadly than the power and impact of that is the research that shows the importance of families as the building blocks for children, and the stability that families bring to the socio-economics of children and for individuals, and the correlation between strong families and strong results in the economy and education and health and well-being.”
Pawlenty applauded Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, for “being a champion for saying and doing, and pushing and promoting and leading efforts to try to highlight, encourage and support families.”
During the press conference, The Iowa Independent asked if Pawlenty’s discussion of families as the building blocks of society included all families as currently recognized under Iowa law, and if he agreed with Vander Plaats’ and The Family Leader’s continued advocacy to roll back marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“The Family Leader and other organizations have taken a position in favor of traditional marriage. I don’t distance myself from that position — I embrace it,” he said. “I support the notion that we, as a society, should continue to elevate traditional marriage, that it should remain as between a man and a woman, and that all other domestic relationships are not the same as traditional marriage. That’s my view. It’s not something that I’ve changed or evolved on or need to distance from because I strongly believe it.”
When he speaks about family being a cornerstone of American society, he said, he is speaking directly about marriage between a man and a woman because he not only philosophically aligns only with that perspective, but because he believes research has proven such a union to be the best possible for children and society.
“It’s not a matter of somebody’s opinion or political discourse,” Pawlenty said. “We know from research, we know from history, we know from the results that if you have an intact family with a mom and a dad that is the most nurturing environment, the most stable form of a family that gives the children the best chance of success. Not everybody can or does have that situation, but we hope that as many can as possible. We want to do things to encourage that, not discourage it. It is clear from the research that children who are in those environments are more likely to do better and be healthier and have a higher chance of success.”
When asked to name examples of the research he cited, Pawlenty said he was “speaking about children who are in households that are intact, functioning that have two parents — a mom and a dad, a traditional marriage setting — so there is a lot of research that supports that.”
The Daily Iowan then asked specifically about Zach Wahls, a current University of Iowa engineering student that was raised by two lesbians and spoke before the Iowa House in defense of marriage equality. Pawlenty admitted that there are exceptions to his rule.
“What I said … doesn’t mean that people who have other life situations or challenges or circumstances can’t be successful. That’s obviously not the case,” he said. “We have people who come from all different types of backgrounds, challenges and heartache [who achieve] — so that’s not to say that people from different situations can be successful. The point is: What kind of structure, what kind of environment is most conducive to success?”
Pawlenty said he realizes that discussion regarding same-sex marriage rights is a “hotly contested” issue in Iowa, but said he would offer no apologies for his firm belief that marriage should only be between a man and woman.
“I don’t think it is radical or extreme to say that marriage should be between a man and woman,” he said. “I don’t think that is extreme at all. That’s the way it has always been. That’s the way that society has viewed it for all of these years and centuries. So, I don’t think I’m on the extreme side of the issue.”
Pawlenty’s appearance in Iowa on behalf of The Family Leader was the first in a series of events that Vander Plaats described as “educational opportunities” for Iowans. Others expected to speak to the group’s supporters are rumored 2012 presidential hopefuls Paul Rand, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.