LGBTQ people are under attack in state legislatures. Help us fight back.
While Scott Walker may claim that he doesn’t want to campaign on issues like marriage as a potential presidential candidate, the reality is that he has a history – both as governor, and in prior offices – of working to obstruct and even roll back basic rights for LGBT Americans.
Marriage: Walker has consistently opposed marriage equality. He supported the original constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, supported an appeal that would have prevented same-sex marriages, and affirmed his opposition to marriage equality in a letter after they were made legal in Wisconsin.
Discrimination: As County Executive, Walker opposed even basic rights for LGBT couples, like visitation rights. As governor, Walker tried to roll back the state’s domestic partner registry by dismissing the state attorneys hired to defend the program. Walker said that the U.S. House should take up a vote on ENDA, which would give LGBT Americans explicit protections from discrimination in the workplace. But he repealed a bill that protected state workers from wage discrimination based on sex.
Executive Order: Unclear
Conversion Therapy: Unclear
Harmful Rhetoric: Walker proposed eliminating an HIV/AIDS prevention program by saying that HIV/AIDS prevention was not a “core function” of government. Walker campaigned on his opposition to creating a basic domestic partner registry for LGBT residents, and then later said that voters were not demanding marriage equality.
Walker’s Notable Quotes on LGBT Equality
Walker Cut $230,000 In AIDS Prevention Funding, Saying That He Did Not Like Using “Tax Dollars To Support Illegal Activity” And That AIDS Prevention Was Not “A Core Function Of The County.” According to the Associated Press: “A proposal by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to cut $230,000 for AIDS prevention from the county budget next year was blasted at the 13th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin…..The number of new HIV cases connected with drug use in Wisconsin has been reduced from about 80 a year to 26 since the needle exchange program began in the state eight years ago, Nelson said. County money pays for staffing an AIDS prevention program that, in turn, provides the clean needles under a program that began in 2000. Walker said last week in proposing the cut that he did not like the idea of using ‘tax dollars to support illegal activity.’ He added Sunday he did not consider AIDS prevention ‘a core function of the county.’” [Associated Press, 9/30/2002]
Walker on the Issues
Significant Findings on Marriage and Partner Benefits
November 2005: Walker Urged The Wisconsin State Legislature To Amend The Constitution To Ban Same-Sex Marriage. “Many years ago, I concluded that we must change the Wisconsin State Constitution to say that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. My belief in this position is even stronger today. The Wisconsin State Legislature is currently deliberating this issue, and I strongly urge them to pass the constitutional amendment defining a marriage as a commitment between one man and one woman. Then, it will be up to the voters to say what defines a marriage in Wisconsin. […] Current law in Wisconsin already defines marriage as between a husband and a wife. Because the courts in other states have broaden the definition of marriage, the constitutional amendment makes it clear that the only marriages recognized in Wisconsin are between one man and one woman.” [Walker for Governor Press Release, 11/29/05]
Walker Opposed Domestic Partner Registry And Promised To Hold Same Position As Governor. According to the Wisconsin Gazette: “If elected governor, Republican Scott Walker would oppose the state’s domestic partner registry as well as benefits for the same-sex partners of state workers, he told the Milwaukee Press Club. Appearing at the club’s June 11 Newsmaker Luncheon, Walker said he objected to the way Gov. Jim Doyle inserted the measure creating the registry into the state budget in order to get legislative approval. Doyle also used the maneuver to extend employee benefits to the same-sex partners of state workers, including those in the University of Wisconsin System. ‘I vetoed a similar measure in Milwaukee County, and I would hold the same position as governor,’ Walker said.” [Wisconsin Gazette, 6/17/2010]
November 2009: Walker Vetoed A Law To Provide Partner Benefits To Milwaukee County Workers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Walker vetoed an effort to provide benefits to the same-sex partners of county workers. […] Walker said at a Milwaukee Press Club event this month he thought the domestic partnership registry contradicted the state constitution because it bans arrangements substantially similar to gay marriage. ‘I differ from the governor on that; I differ from Mayor Barrett on that,’ he said. He noted he vetoed a county resolution in November that would have allowed the same-sex partners of county workers to get benefits. The County Board upheld the veto by a one-vote margin.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/26/10]
2010: Walker Said He Would Not Have Signed Bill Establishing Domestic Partnership Registry And Refused To Sign Similar Ordinance As Milwaukee County Executive. According to the Capital Times: “It was only about four years ago that Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker was telling Wisconsin voters he was opposed to same-sex marriage and supported the state constitutional amendment that made it illegal in Wisconsin. During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Walker made it clear that unlike the governor, Jim Doyle, he never would have signed the bill that established a domestic partner registry giving same-sex couples some legal rights enjoyed by married couples. Doyle's action spurred the anti-gay marriage group Wisconsin Family Action to sue the state, contending the registry was an attack on ‘family values.’ Walker essentially agreed with the anti-gay group. And as Milwaukee County executive, he refused to sign an ordinance creating a similar registry.” [The Capital Times, 6/4/2014]
October 2010: Walker Opposed A Law Allowing Same-sex Couples To Have Hospital Visitation Rights. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Walker said after the debate he opposed a new state law that allows gay couples to register with counties to get certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights. He said he did not know if he would try to repeal a recent state policy that allows the same-sex partners of state workers to get health care and other benefits.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/29/10]
May 2011: Walker Asked A Judge To Allow The State To Stop Defending The Law Granting Hospital Visitation Rights To Same-sex Couples. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it. Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some - but not all - of the rights afforded married couples. […] On Friday, Walker filed a motion to stop defending the case. ‘Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry...is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law,’ says the brief, filed by Walker's chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/16/11]
2011: Walker Fired Private Attorneys Hired To Defend Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Registry Because He Believed It Unconstitutionally Violated Same-Sex Marriage Ban. According to the Associated Press: “Democratic lawmakers created the [domestic partnership] registry in 2009. Same-sex couples who join it are afforded a host of legal rights, including the right to visit each other in hospitals and make end-of-life decisions for one another. About 1,800 couples were on the registry at the end of 2011, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health Services. Members of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging the registry bestowed a legal status substantially similar to marriage to same-sex couples. The group argued that violates the Wisconsin Constitution's ban on gay marriage. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the registry, declaring it was clearly unconstitutional. Former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, appointed private attorneys to defend it, but Republican Gov. Scott Walker fired them after he took office in 2011 because he, too, believed the registry was unconstitutional.” [Associated Press, 12/21/2012]
May 2012: Walker Said He Would Uphold Same-Sex Marriage Ban. When asked in an interview by the Associated Press whether he was open to repealing the state ban on same-sex marriage, Walker said, “the voters of Wisconsin voted to change the state’s Constitution in 2006 to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. I will continue to uphold the Constitution.” [Associated Press, 5/26/2012]
November 2013: Walker Said That Wisconsin’s Non-Discrimination Laws, Coupled With A Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Constituted A “Healthy Balance” For LGBT Rights. According to MSNBC: “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.” [MSNBC.com, 11/26/13; VIDEO]
Walker Affirmed Support For 2006 Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage While Supreme Court Debated Defense Of Marriage Act. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “As the nation's highest court considered a federal law defining marriage, Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday backed Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage but also said the issue should be left to states to decide…..Speaking at the Monona Terrace after addressing a meeting of the Wisconsin Dental Association, the Republican governor declined to weigh in on whether the federal law should be upheld or struck down by the court. ‘I'm not a lawyer, so I can't really tell you about the legal side of it,’ Walker said. ‘The State of Wisconsin has a position, and it's based on the vote of the people back in 2006. We affirm that position.’ In 2006, Wisconsin voters approved by a margin of 60% a ban on gay marriage and civil unions in Wisconsin, writing that prohibition into the state constitution.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/27/2013]
March 2013: Walker Said He Did Not Want To Focus On Issues Like Same-Sex Marriage In Part Because Younger Conservatives Support Marriage Equality. On Meet the Press, David Gregory asked Walker: “‘Are younger conservatives more apt to see marriage equality as something that is, you know, what they believe, that is basic rather than as a disqualifying issue? WALKER: ‘I think there’s no doubt about that. But I think that’s all the more reason, when I talk about things, I talk about the economic and fiscal crises in our state and in our country, that’s what people want to resonate about. They don’t want to get focused on those issues.’” [Huffington Post, 3/17/2013; VIDEO]
March 2013: Walker Suggested That The Definition Of Marriage Could Be Left Up To “The Churches And The Synagogues And Others.” According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Walker talked Sunday on ‘Meet the Press’ about how younger voters are more open to gay marriage and questioned whether states should sanction marriages of any kind. ‘The interesting (thing) on the generational standpoint is I've had young people ask me I think an appropriate question, is not expanding it to include folks who are not one man and one woman but rather questioning why the government is sanctioning it in the first place,’ he said on the show. ‘I mean, that would be an alternative to say not have the government sanction marriage period, and leave that up to the churches and the synagogues and others to define that.’ On Monday, he stated that he still opposes gay marriage. But he said he is more focused on economic issues and that voters care most about those matters.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/18/13; VIDEO]
Walker Said On Same-Sex Marriage That “My Preference Is That Things Are Left To The States And Not Dictated By The Federal Government.” According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Walker said he felt the question [on the legality of same-sex marriage] was best left to states to decide. ‘In general, my preference is that things are left to the states and not dictated by the federal government. And that's across the board,’ Walker said.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/27/2013]
August 2013: Walker Said Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Be “Anything That’s Going To Be Addressed Anytime Soon.” According to Huffington Post: “Don't expect Wisconsin to take any steps toward marriage equality in the near future, Gov. Scott Walker (R) said at a weekend conference in Milwaukee. ‘To change anything in the constitution ... it requires two consecutive sessions of the legislature, and ultimately, a vote of the people,’ Walker said, noting that Wisconsin voters adopted a gay marriage ban to the state constitution in a 2006 vote. ‘I just don't see that as being anything that's going to be addressed anytime soon.’” [Huffington Post, 8/5/2013]
November 2013: Walker Said He Was Not Ready To “Embrace” Same-Sex Marriage Yet, But He Was Listening To His College Age Sons And “I Get Their Concerns.” According to BuzzFeed: “On the marriage issue, he can probably best be described as ‘evolving.’ Pointing to a 2006 state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Walker was quick to note — much to his apparent relief — that he was effectively powerless in the debate. ‘From my standpoint, as governor I won’t ever have any say in that because if you’re going to change the constitution, all it requires is the legislature and then a vote of the people,’ he said. Meanwhile, he said his two college-aged sons, who have grown more aware of gay rights issues while on campus, have tried to persuade him that the government should withdraw from the marriage business altogether, leaving it up to churches and other institutions to define the rite on their own. ‘That’s a solid argument,’ Walker said. ‘I personally may not embrace that yet. But that, to me, is a bigger question… I get their concerns.’” [BuzzFeed, 11/21/13]
Walker Said That Same-sex Marriage Was “Not A Focal Point In My State.” According to Politico: “Asked about same-sex marriage on Friday, Walker said he supported the state’s 2006 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But since the issue has been settled — and because as governor he lacks authority to make changes to the state’s current policy — Walker said simply that ‘there hasn’t been a lot of debate about it since then.’ ‘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.’” [Politico, 11/24/13]
May 2014: Walker: “I Don’t Know What [Allowing Marriage Equality] Means. Voters Don’t Talk To Me About That.” According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Also Friday, Gov. Scott Walker backed away from his previous support for the state ban on gay marriage passed in 2006, saying he didn't know if it violated the U.S. Constitution, would still be approved by voters today or would amount to a big change for the state's values and economy if overturned. Making clear he wanted no part of this legal battle in an election year, the Republican governor said he was focused on other priorities. Though as Governor Walker is one of the defendants in the lawsuit, he said gay marriage was an issue for Van Hollen and the federal judge, not him. ‘Any federal judge has got to look at that law not only with respect to the state's constitution but what it means in terms of the U.S. Constitution, as well. Again, I'm not going to pretend to tell a federal judge in that regard what he or she should do about it,’ Walker said. ‘...I don't know what (allowing marriage equality) means. Voters don't talk to me about that. They talk to me about the economy. They talk to me about their kids' schools.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/23/14]
June 2014: Walker Supported The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Decision To Appeal A Ruling Allowing Same-Sex Marriage In The State. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “A federal judge in Madison on Friday overturned Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, striking down an amendment to the state constitution approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2006 and prompting an emergency action by the state to halt the scores of weddings that began in the state's two largest cities. […] A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, did not comment on the substance of the ruling beyond backing Van Hollen's decision to appeal it. ‘It is correct for the attorney general, on this or any other issue, to defend the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, especially in a case where the people voted to amend it,’ Walker said.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/7/14]
June 2014: Walker Declined To State A Position On Same-Sex Marriage, Saying “It Really Doesn’t Matter What I Think Now.” According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “During a 12-minute news conference at a muddy and messy groundbreaking event in Oak Creek, the first-term Republican governor argued that his position on same-sex marriage is no longer relevant. ‘It really doesn't matter what I think now,’ Walker said at one point. ‘It's in the constitution.’ […] But where is Walker on the issue now? He is up for re-election in just five months and he is considering a presidential bid in 2016. ‘I don't comment on everything out there,’ he responded. Except he usually does, especially on a hot-button issue like this one. Walker bristled when it was suggested he was refusing to answer the question. ‘You can print whatever you want, but I did not decline comment,’ he said. OK, let's try it one more time. Is the governor — like some other conservatives — rethinking his position on same-sex marriage? ‘No,’ Walker said. ‘I'm just not stating one at all.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/12/14]
Walker Said Although He Voted For Marriage Ban In 2006, Now “The Governor Has No Bearing On That Issue…It’s Not A Matter Of Changing Positions.” According to the Associated Press: “Walker responded by repeating what he said on Thursday: He voted for the ban in 2006, but now his stance doesn't matter because the governor plays no role in changing the constitution. Only the Legislature, the state's voters or a judge can make changes, he said. ‘The governor has no bearing on that issue,’ Walker said. ‘It's not a matter of changing positions.’” [Associated Press, 6/17/2014]
July 2014: Walker Said It Was “Perfectly Fine” For Son To Participate As Witness In Relative’s Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony. According to the Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he doesn’t have a problem with his son being a witness at a family member’s same-sex marriage ceremony last month. Walker said he didn’t attend the ceremony between a cousin of First Lady Tonette Walker and her female partner on June 9 at the Waukesha County courthouse because he was in a New York meeting with bond buyers. Walker’s 19-year-old son Alex, who will be a sophomore at UW-Madison this fall, was a witness at the ceremony. Walker, a longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, said he was aware that his son would be involved in the ceremony and that ‘it’s perfectly fine for him to do that.’ ‘He doesn’t need my blessing to do anything he does,’ Walker said after a campaign stop at an Oregon metal-coating company. ‘He was at a family member’s event. This is not a policy statement on his behalf. He was with a family member and it’s a family member who we love dearly.’ Walker declined to comment on whether he considers the marriage legal.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 7/9/2014]
July 2014: Walker Claimed That The Republican Party Was No Longer “Fighting” The Same-Sex Marriage Issue. “At a gathering of governors in the South this weekend, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplayed the importance of gay marriage as a political issue. ‘I don't think the Republican Party is fighting it,’ Walker said of gay marriage. He spoke with The Associated Press during an interview this weekend at the National Governors Association's summer meeting in Nashville. ‘I'm not saying it's not important,’ continued Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid should he survive his re-election test this fall. ‘But Republicans haven't been talking about this. We've been talking about economic and fiscal issues. It's those on the left that are pushing it.’” [Associated Press, 7/13/14]
July 2014: Walker Said He Was Appealing The Ruling Allowing Same-Sex Marriage In Wisconsin Because He Is Required To As Governor And That Republican Governors Would Be “Legally Obligated” To Support Marriage Equality If The Supreme Court Ruled To Allow It . “Walker's comments come just days after he formally appealed a federal judge's ruling striking down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriages, a ban he supported. […] Walker explained his court appeal simply as his obligation as governor to defend the state's constitution. Other Republican governors, however, including New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, opted against appealing a similar ruling in his state, clearing the way for gay marriage to become legal there. But his decision came only after he vetoed his state legislature's initial effort to legalize the practice. […] Walker, too, said that Republican governors would be "legally obligated" to support gay marriage should the Supreme Court rule in its favor.” [Associated Press, 7/13/14]
October 2014: Walker Said The Same-Sex Marriage Fight Was “Over” In Wisconsin. “Speaking to reporters after a campaign event at a farm here, GOP Gov. Scott Walker said the state was abandoning its fight to keep its same-sex marriage ban. Walker made his remarks after the U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected the state's appeal of a lower court ruling striking down Wisconsin's ban. The governor, a named defendant in the lawsuit by eight same-sex couples, said he had voted for Wisconsin’s ban in 2006 and hadn’t changed his support for it, but he said he was accepting the Supreme Court’s decision. Asked if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to ban same-sex marriage, Walker downplayed the notion, saying, ‘I think it’s resolved.
Significant Findings on Discrimination Protections for LGBT Americans
Walker Proposed Bill Allowing Medical Professionals To Refuse To Do Duties Such As Fill Out Birth Control Prescriptions If Duty Conflicts With Their Moral Or Ethical Beliefs. According to the Associated Press: “A legislative committee Wednesday endorsed a bill that would let medical professionals refuse to do certain duties - such as fill birth control prescriptions - if they conflict with their moral or ethical beliefs. The Assembly Committee on Labor and Workforce Development voted 5-2 in favor of the measure. The bill, proposed by Rep. Scott Walker, R-Wauwatosa, targets the "morning after" pill, which stops a pregnancy after unprotected sex, and the abortion drug RU-486. It also could allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense most other forms of birth control. The group Wisconsin Right to Life, which opposes legalized abortions, also is backing the bill. The bill would expand doctors' and nurses' existing right to conscientiously object to sterilization or abortion procedures. Health care workers, without being punished by their employers, could refuse to prescribe birth control medications or could refuse to remove life-sustaining treatment, even if the family wanted it removed.” [Associated Press, 4/19/2001]
Walker Repealed 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, Making It More Difficult For Victims Of Wage Discrimination To Seek Damages. According to the International Business Times: “In what was perhaps his most surprising move, Walker signed a bill repealing the state's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court. The law allowed individuals to plead their discrimination cases in the less costly state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court, a provision the newest legislation rolled back….. The law approved by Walker removes the ability for victims of wage discrimination to go to court for compensatory and punitive damages, although they still have the ability to seek back pay. Hynes noted that Walker previously signed legislation that puts a limit on the amount of attorney's fees victims can recover in lawsuits, making it even less likely that wronged employees will take their cases to court. Under the new law, there will be no remedy for justice under state employment law for women who are sexually harassed in the workplace, or for minorities who are subjected to racial epithets and other signs of discrimination.” [International Business Times, 4/9/2012]
November 2013: Walker Said That Wisconsin’s Non-Discrimination Laws Coupled With A Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Constituted A “Healthy Balance” For LGBT Rights. “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.” [MSNBC.com, 11/26/13; VIDEO]
Walker Declined To Answer Whether He Had Openly LGBT People On His Staff, But Disagreed With Opponent Who Said They Would Never Hire An Openly LGBT Staffer As A “Personal” Not Philosophical Difference. According to the Wisconsin Gazette: “Walker said he had no philosophical differences with his Republican primary opponent Mark Neumann. A former congressman, Neumann has said that he would never hire an open gay or lesbian to work for him. Walker later clarified that he did not agree with Neumann on that particular position, but he characterized the difference as ‘personal’irather than philosophical. Walker declined to answer WiG’s question about whether he had open gays or lesbians serving on his staff.” [Wisconsin Gazette, 6/17/2010]
Walker Signed Repeal Of 2009 Comprehensive Sex Education Law To Allow Abstinence-Only Education. According to the International Business Times: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did nothing to refute the idea that Republicans are waging a war on women late last week when he quietly signed three controversial bills that limit access to abortion services and sex education and repealed the state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, on the eve of the holiday weekend.….Under the law known as SB 237, Wisconsin schools that teach sex education must promote marriage and stress that abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The change will allow public schools to offer abstinence-only sex education courses, which had been barred since 2010 under a law passed by Democrats when they controlled the Legislature. The new law represents a dramatic shift from current state law requiring teachers to instruct students on U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control options.” [International Business Times, 4/9/2012]
Walker Said That While A ‘Religious Freedom’ Law Hasn’t Been Debated In Wisconsin “We’ll Have To See In The Future,” And There Needed To Be A Balance Between Discrimination And “Respecting Religious Freedoms.” According to WisPolitics.com: “Gov. Scott Walker today was noncommittal on whether he believes Wisconsin should adopt something similar to Indiana's ‘religious freedom’ law, saying it's not something that's been debated at any length here ‘but we'll have to see in the future.’ Asked if businesses should have the option to refuse service to customers, such as gays, based on religious grounds, Walker replied, ‘Well again, in our state, there's a balance between wanting to make sure there is not discrimination but at the same time, respecting religious freedoms. We do that different ways than what they’ve done in the state of Indiana, and certainly that’s going to be part of the debate here and across the country.’ Walker, who was in Milwaukee for a public appearance, would not say whether he would sign such a law, saying he did not expect such a bill coming ‘any time soon.’” [Wispolitics.com, 3/30/2015]
Walker Expressed Support For “Principle” Of Indiana Right To Discriminate Bill, Believes In “Broad Religious Freedom And The Right For Americans To Exercise Their Religion And Act On Their Conscience.” Responding to Indiana’s passage of a religious liberties bill that allowed for-profit companies to discriminate against LGBT people, “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, known for waging tough fights of his own against labor unions in a blue-leaning state, supports the principle of the measures, his spokeswoman said Sunday. ‘As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience,’ AshLee Strong, the press secretary for Walker's Our American Revival political action committee, said.” [CNN, 3/29/2015]
Walker Said Controversy Over Indiana RFRA Law Was “People Who Are Chronically Looking For Ways To Be Upset About Things.” Buzzfeed reported: “Walker said the outrage for the [Indiana RFRA] law was coming from people who hadn’t really looked at what the law really is and were just looking for a reason to be upset. ‘I just think this is people who are chronically looking for ways to be upset about things instead of really looking what it is. I believe in protecting religious freedoms. It’s inherent in our state’s constitution. Heck, it’s inherent in our U.S. Constitution, and again, Wisconsin, we’ve done it, and we’re stronger for it.’” [Buzzfeed, 4/2/2015; Insight 2015, 4/1/2015; AUDIO]
Walker Said Wisconsin’s Non-Discrimination Protections Were A “Healthy Balance” And Avoided Answering What Would Happen To A Baker Asked To Provide Services For A Same-Sex Wedding. Buzzfeed reported that in an interview on Insight 2015, “Asked about what would happen to a baker who did wanting to provide services to a same-sex wedding in the state, Walker didn’t address the scenario, but said Wisconsin’s law strikes ‘a healthy balance.’ ‘Again, if you look at the constitution there is both a combination of religious freedoms protecting the constitution and back in the ’80s, long, long ago when I was still a kid, there were also provisions there that would protect against discrimination including a gay or lesbian individual out there,’ he said. ‘So there is a healthy balance of someone can’t be discriminated, say, in the workplace and that — but for someone who has a conscientious objection, based on their religious beliefs no matter what it might be, the constitution is pretty clear in the state.’” [Buzzfeed, 4/2/2015; Insight 2015, 4/1/2015; AUDIO]
Significant Findings on Rhetoric and Intolerance
Walker Cut $230,000 In HIV/AIDS Prevention Funding, Saying That He Did Not Like Using “Tax Dollars To Support Illegal Activity” And That HIV/AIDS Prevention Was Not “A Core Function Of The County.” According to the Associated Press: “A proposal by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to cut $230,000 for AIDS prevention from the county budget next year was blasted at the 13th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin…..The number of new HIV cases connected with drug use in Wisconsin has been reduced from about 80 a year to 26 since the needle exchange program began in the state eight years ago, Nelson said. County money pays for staffing an AIDS prevention program that, in turn, provides the clean needles under a program that began in 2000. Walker said last week in proposing the cut that he did not like the idea of using ‘tax dollars to support illegal activity.’ He added Sunday he did not consider AIDS prevention ‘a core function of the county.’” [Associated Press, 9/30/2002]
November 2013: Walker Said That Wisconsin’s Non-Discrimination Laws Coupled With A Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Constituted A “Healthy Balance” For LGBT Rights. According to MSNBC: “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 bala