Dean says gay marriage is state’s right

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says he believes that every state in the country should adopt legislation that grants legal rights and responsibilities to gay couples. Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, broadcasting live from Ottumwa, Iowa, Dean said he opposes a national solution to this issue.

Instead, Dean says, each state should be allowed to determine which approach it wants to take. Some states might choose gay marriage, some might prefer civil unions, while others might support domestic partnerships. But Dean says it’s critical that all states address this issue:

(Dean) “What the federal government can do is tell states that they have to find a way to make sure that everybody has equal rights under the law which I fully favor. It’s not up to the federal government to write the legislation for the states. Just as the court in Vermont told us we have to find a way to give everybody equal rights under the law, they left to the Legislature how to do it. And that’s what I leave to states.”

(Host) Dean says it’s not acceptable for individual states to avoid dealing with this issue:

(Dean) “I don’t think it’s their prerogative to refuse to treat Americans equally. I think it’s their prerogative whether to decide to have to have gay marriage or civil unions or whatever else. But they’ve got to find a way to make sure that everybody has equal rights in the law. This is not a country that is built on discriminating against other people, no matter what they are. Discrimination is wrong whether it’s your next-door neighbor or people you don’t know or people you don’t like. It’s okay not to like somebody, but it’s not okay to deprive them of the rights that I’m entitled to.”

(Host) Dean will be campaigning in southeastern Iowa today and this evening he’ll be participating in candidates forum sponsored by a national labor organization in Des Moines.

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