Monday, November 24th, 2014

In Context: Scott Walker's "healthy balance" remark

Gov. Scott Walker stirred reaction from liberals with his comment on gay marriage.
Gov. Scott Walker stirred reaction from liberals with his comment on gay marriage.

Gov. Scott Walker caused a reverberation among liberals when, while plugging his new book, he used a seemingly innocuous term:

"Healthy balance."

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) advocates were especially put off, as these headlines show:

Wisconsin governor defends ban on same-sex marriage as "healthy balance" of LGBT rights -- Think Progress (liberal blog)

Funny definition of "healthy balance" you got there, Scotty -- Daily Kos (liberal blog)

Wisconsin governor says gay marriage ban contributes to "healthy balance" -- Advocate.com (LGBT news)

Advocate.com opined that "Walker doesn't see any contradiction in state law that prohibits someone from being fired because they're gay, lesbian, or bisexual, but also refuses to grant equal rights to married same-sex couples."

Walker’s comment also drew coverage from other bloggers, MSNBC and numerous folks on Twitter.

All of which presents an opportunity for In Context, an occasional PolitiFact Wisconisn feature that examines a statement that draws widespread attention.

(We’ve previously done In Context articles on, among others, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s "damn right" comment; Hillary Clinton’s "what difference does it make?" statement to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson; and Walker’s critique of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.)

So, how exactly did Walker use the "healthy balance" phrase?

Here, according to a transcript, is the exchange on Bloomberg Television’s "Political Capital with Al Hunt," on Nov. 22, 2013:

Hunt: You have said the focus ought to be on economic issues and you shouldn’t emphasize the social issues that are divisive. You also said that things like gay rights, anti-gay rights is a turnoff to young voters. The Senate, with some Republican support, passed a bill banning discrimination against gays. Should the House do the same?

Walker: Well, again, I haven’t looked at that particular bill. I can tell you, in Wisconsin, we’ve had anti-discriminatory laws that are very similar to that for more than 30 years and they’ve worked quite effectively.

Hunt: So you --

Walker: We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between one man and one woman.

Hunt: So if similar to the Wisconsin bill, the House bill should be something that --

Walker: Yeah, if it -- I mean, we’ve not had problems with that.

Hunt: OK.

Walker: We’ve had no problems -- or I should say, limited problems with that. At the same time, we still have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage. There’s a healthy balance there.

Hunt then moved the conversation to foreign policy.

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