John Monds, the Libertarian candidate for Georgia governor, says he is “perfectly fine” with same-sex marriage and that government shouldn’t be involved in people’s relationships but that if it is, gay couples should be treated equally.
Monds’ support for marriage equality puts him in stark contrast to his competitors. Both former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican, support defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. On Monday, Barnes went a step further by saying that if he had been in the General Assembly in 2004, he would have voted in favor of a state constitutional ban on gay marriage that later was overwhelmingly passed by Georgia voters.
“I am for reducing the influence of government in people’s lives.,” Monds said. “I’d rather not go in the direction of having government defining marriage. If government continues to be involved in marriage, than I absolutely would be in favor of equal treatment under the law.”
Monds discussed gay marriage and other LGBT issues during a telephone interview Wednesday with Project Q Atlanta. He wanted to expand on a one-word answer about gay marriage that he delivered Tuesday during an appearance with Barnes and Deal. 11Alive’s “Stop the Madness Debate” asked the candidates to give one-word answers to nine questions (see video). When a panelist asked, “Do you support authorizing gay marriage in the state of Georgia?,” Barnes and Deal said no. Monds said maybe.
“My answer yesterday about maybe was really looking at the fact that I don’t believe the government should be involved in people’s relationships,” Monds said.
Monds also said Wednesday that Georgia’s constitution shouldn’t define marriage, a reference to the voter-approved amendment in 2004 that banned same-sex unions.
“There are enough other things that we should be doing as far as people’s rights. I see it as a diversion to really gin up people. That is not the direction we should be going in. Government should be securing people’s rights,” he said.
Personally, Monds said that he has “no problem with same-sex marriage, whether you want to define it as a marriage or whatever. I am perfectly fine with that.”
But Monds, the first African-American candidate for governor to appear on the general election ballot and likely the first to appear in an Atlanta Pride Parade, doesn’t support a state hate crimes law. He also said that he would support banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation if it applies to public sector jobs, not private businesses.
Barnes supports a hate crime measure and supported the state’s past law that was ruled unconstitutional, but said a workplace discrimination law wouldn’t pass in Georgia. In Congress, Deal did not support federal versions of either measure.
“I think crime is crime. I would say I am not in favor of hate crimes [legislation]. There is not a love crime, so why would you need a hate crime? The fact that you assaulted somebody, that you have committed violence against somebody—the motivation behind that is not where we should be going. The violence is the key. The focus is that you murdered someone, raped somebody, assaulted somebody, shot somebody – that is my view on hate crimes legislation,” Monds said.
He also said that he doesn’t support interfering with the operations of private businesses, which he said employment non-discrimination legislation would do.
“I look at in the private sector. If somebody wanted to put a sign up [that said] no blacks or gays in their business, I think they have the right to do that. They probably won’t stay in business. But if it’s in the private sector, I believe people have a right to discriminate,” Monds said.
But public agencies are another matter, he said. “Government should not be in the business of discriminating,” Monds added.
Monds said LGBT voters should support his campaign as a response to the failure of Democrats to support their issues once in office after they have lobbied for gay votes. As governor, Monds would use the office as a bully pulpit for individual rights, he said.
“We have been so polarized and the people clinging sides to certain groups, the effect that you have is that your side loses or your side wins and people don’t do anything for you. That’s where most people are today. That’s where the LGBT community is right now. Democrats have failed even when they have had majorities on the federal or state level,” Monds said.
Monds, who rode a float in the Pride parade (photo), said he enjoyed the experience and hoped that the effort opened the eyes of LGBT voters to Libertarian candidates.
“We wanted to reach out to the Pride community. They don’t necessarily realize what an ally they have with the Libertarian Party. Typically, if you are Libertarian, we believe in individual rights. In the past, for whatever reasons, that relationships hasn’t been developed. The Democratic Party has been a huge let down not only for those in the gay community, but for African Americans as well. They get away from the respect for individual rights,” Monds said.