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Gary Johnson, Former New Mexico Governor, On Why He's Gay Voters' Best Presidential Choice

01/24/2012 10:42 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Former New Mexico GOP Gov. Gary Johnson says he’s the best presidential choice for gay voters -- better than even President Obama -- calling Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney "out of touch." He’s also escalating his attacks on Newt Gingrich for having backed a bill in 1996 that would execute marijuana users, asking pointedly, "Am I to be put to death?"

Currently seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, Johnson dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination back in December, after appearing in two of the televised national debates in 2011. He came out for marriage equality in the fall, after first supporting civil unions.

"The ACLU came out with a report card a couple of weeks ago and gave all the presidential candidates a grade," Johnson said on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ, in response to a question about whom LGBT Republicans, libertarians and dissatisfied Democrats should vote. President Obama was in third place. Ron Paul was in second place, and the best grade went to Gary Johnson.

"Most Americans are fiscally conservative and socially liberal," he said. "I'm advocating a balanced budget. But along with that, look, there should be gay marriage equality, a woman should have the right to choose, let's not build a fence across the border. Let's legalize marijuana."

On gay and lesbian relationships, Johnson says, "I started off with support for civil unions" for everyone, straight and gay, and getting the government "out of the marriage business." But he changed his mind and supported marriage equality when he realized "you'd have go through every line in federal law and omit every line where marriage appeared as opposed to just endorsing gay marriage."

Johnson excoriated Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary last Saturday.

"In 1996, he proposed the death penalty for possession of two ounces or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute it in the United States," he said, pointing to Gingrich's bill, the Drug Importation Death Penalty Act of 1996. "I am one of the 100 million Americans who've smoked pot and, under the wrong set of circumstances, am I put to death? I hope not. And Newt Gingrich, someone who has admitted to smoking marijuana himself, also, said, and, I'm paraphrasing now, 'When I spoked marijuana it was just illegal and it was cool, but now it's illegal and it's immoral. If we just put 30 people to death under this law, well, we'll dry up marijuana in the country.' Newt Gingrich and his big ideas. Is this a big idea?"

Johnson's hope is to get the Libertarian Party nomination and be on all 50 state ballots. If he wins the nomination, he says, and if he polls at 15 percent or above, he’ll be able to participate in the general election presidential debates.

Listen to the full interview with Johnson below:

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