Jesse Ventura on Civil Rights
Former Independent MN Governor
To me, gay rights is simple: it's about equality. We're all supposed to be equal under the Constitution, which doesn't say anything about the "Hetero States of America."
I fought hard as governor to get equal rights for state employees who happened to be gay. We were losing some of the best and the brightest to the private sector, simply because they were gay and not receiving the benefits that should be provided. In 2001, I finally achieved this for gay people. The benefits didn't last long beyond my time in office, though. When the contract came up for renegotiation, the new governor proposed a pay freeze--and a cut in benefits for gays.
I'm proud of the fact that in 2006, "Lavender"--the top gay magazine in MN--put me on the cover and said I was the best governor for gay rights in the state's history. I find it interesting that distinction would come to a heterosexual Navy frogman. Even though I'm sure that the Christian right's opinion would be that I'm completely out of line.
I would rather face the terrorists than lose my civil liberties. If protecting our safety means taking away our Bill of Rights, then could I be so crass and bold as to scream "Give me liberty or give me death"? Once freedom is gone--the bedrock foundation that built our country--what's left to stand for and believe in?
The Patriot Act was rushed into law in those first scary weeks after 9/11. Its official title: United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act." Hence, USA PATRIOT Act. In 1933, Hitler pushed through legislation equally quickly called "The Law To Remove the Distress of the People and State." That has an eerily similar ring to it
What does the Patriot Act enable? Oh, things like a secret court that meets whenever it chooses to approve undercover surveillance on both foreigners and Americans. Violations of various parts of the Bill of Rights, like illegal search and seizure, indefinite time in jail without a trial, seizure of private property. And when the Patriot Act came up for reauthorization in 2007, the Democratic Congress fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
Some aspects give the federal government even broader power than before. The homes, offices, and phone records of Americans can now come under surveillance without a warrant. We can be spied on overseas. The 4th Amendment is basically gutted.
Our government can only protect rights, it can’t always enforce responsibilities. That part is up to us. But practically speaking, you can’t have one without the other. Women have done a terrific job over the past few decades of breaking down the barriers that denied them equal rights. I’m all for that.
But I hear an awful lot of women arguing for equal treatment, but then the minute the going gets tough, they start hollering about harassment and abuse. We seem to have gotten so overly sensitive about harassment that it makes it look like women can’t handle any kind of sexual overtures from men at all. I think we need to get a whole lot clearer on what we mean by harassment and assault, because right now the definition is arbitrary.
It often happens today that a committed gay couple isn’t permitted to function the way a committed (married) heterosexual couple would, [such as in hospital visitations]. Legalized gay partnerships would allow gays to become something they have never become before in the eyes of the law: family.
But I draw the line at calling gay partnerships “marriage.” Marriage is something different. My dictionary says marriage is a union between a man and a woman. I don’t think we need to be diluting that definition just to make sure gays have the privilege of being in a committed union. I think a term like “domestic partnership” works fine.
Artists who sell their work commercially or who work under private grants are beholden to the public and to their patrons. Not so with the NEA. As an arm of the government, the NEA is in the awkward position of handing out the cash without being able to place any conditions on what it gets for that money, because for the government to limit what an artist can “say,” verbally or symbolically, is a breach of the First Amendment.
And so you often get government-sponsored art that would probably never make it in a commercial venue. You have a right to say whatever you want, verbally or symbolically, but that doesn’t mean you have a right to get a government handout for it.
A: Yes. We should be prosecuting the crime, not the person. Prosecution and sentencing should be colorblind. When someone is sentenced, the only items that should be taken into account are their criminal record, nature of the crime committed and sentence guidelines for the crime. Race has no place in prosecution or sentencing.
In 1976 the National Governors Association expressed support for ratification and implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would constitutionally guarantee full citizenship rights and opportunities for women. In 1982 the drive for ratification fell short, and efforts to initiate the amendatory process were taken.
The National Governors Association reaffirms its support for the principles embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment, i.e., that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the basis of gender.
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About Jesse Ventura: