WASHINGTON – A survey of public statements shows only three of 16 Republican presidential prospects are on record supporting a constitutional amendment either defining marriage as between a man and a woman, or one that would let states decide the legality of same-sex marriages.
A fourth tells WND he is leaning that way.
Those supporting such an amendment are:
- Ted Cruz
- Scott Walker
- Bobby Jindal
- Mike Huckabee
Those opposed are:
- Jeb Bush
- Marco Rubio
- Ben Carson
- Lindsey Graham
- Rick Perry
- Chris Christie
- Rick Santorum
- Carly Fiorina
- George Pataki
- John Kasich
- Rand Paul
(Donald Trump’s position is unclear.)
Mainstream Republicans, including some who consider themselves conservative, seem to want the issue to disappear. But a few die-hard conservatives appear to be developing a two-pronged response to the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, one that stages a defense and another that goes on offense.
The defense is the First Amendment Defense Act that would preserve tax-exemptions, grants and the like for religious institutions, such as churches and religiously affiliated schools, that define marriage as between a man and a woman. It was recently introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and in the House by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.
The maneuver on offense would be a constitutional amendment on marriage, but it has what may be surprisingly few supporters, even among conservatives.
Here is what GOP presidential hopefuls, those who are officially running and those who are expected to run, have said about such an amendment.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Not only does Cruz support an amendment, he has proposed one. Cruz and Lee introduced the State Marriage Defense Act in February. It would allow states to adopt their own definitions of marriage, blocking the federal government from applying one definition across the country.
When he introduced the bill in February, Cruz said, “I support traditional marriage, and we should reject attempts by the Obama administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states.”
Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc.
“As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage,” said Walker after Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.
Jindal supported an amendment to the Constitution that would enable state legislatures to outlaw same-sex marriage back in January, when he told ABC News, “If the Supreme Court were to throw out our law, our (Louisiana’s) constitutional amendment – I hope they wouldn’t do that – if they were to do that, I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making … a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage.”
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.
Huckabee is not on record as for or against an amendment, but a spokeswoman told WND that he “leans toward supporting a constitutional amendment in support of traditional marriage,” and that he will address the issue on Tuesday.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla.
“Governor Bush does not believe amending the Constitution is the right course,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said on Friday.
On Saturday, Bush said, “I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we ought to focus, just as I said, on trying to forge consensus so we can move forward. The courts have decided.
“It’s just not going to happen. I’m focused on solving problems. I’m running for president to fix a few really big complex things, I’m not running to make a point, and I think this is the better approach.”
He also said, “Now we need to focus on two things: how do we create an environment where people aren’t discriminated against, where we respect people’s commitments to long-term loving relationships, and where we also allow people to act on their religious conscience.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
On Friday, a Rubio spokeswoman declined to explain why the senator opposed an amendment, saying that his comments stood on their own.
Rubio said, “As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.”
Dr. Ben Carson
Carson told RealClearPolitics on June 19, that he would not support an amendment to let states decide the issue, and, although he would disagree with a Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage: “I think you always have the obligation to uphold the laws of the land.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
It was all about votes and politics to Graham, who said on Sunday, “You can put it in the platform, but it will, in my view, hurt us in 2016, because it’s a process that’s not going to bear fruit.”
He added, “I don’t believe there is any chance for a constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman to get a two-thirds vote in the House or the Senate and be ratified by three-fourths of the states.”
Former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas
Perry said he supported traditional marriage, but, “I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve changed the Constitution of the United States. So, I work with the reality that that is a very, very long process.”
He added, “I think a more appropriate focus for those of us that are running for the presidency of the United States is to remind people that the next president of the United States could appoint up to three people on the Supreme Court.”
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.
“I want to be clear, I don’t agree with the way it was done, but it’s been done, and those of us that take an oath have a responsibility to abide by that oath,” Christie said on Friday.
The governor dropped his opposition to gay marriage in New Jersey after the state’s Supreme Court upheld it in 2013.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.
Resolute silence from Santorum indicates he would not support a marriage amendment.
The National Journal reported in April that spokesman Matthew Beynon “refused to answer whether Santorum believed states should decide their own definitions of marriage, instead restating that the senator ‘believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.'”
Former Gov. George Pataki, R-N.Y.
Pataki is the only GOP candidate to officially back same-sex marriage. He has called the issue a “distraction.”
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina
Fiorina’s spokeswoman told WND, “Carly does not support a constitutional amendment.”
Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio
Kasich said it’s “time to move on”, adding, “it’s the law of the land and we’ll abide by it.”
The governor said there are “so many other things now that we have to focus on.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Paul had stated in 2010 that he supported the idea of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman, but has said little about it since then.
It appears he now opposes such an amenndment, after writing an op-ed in Time titled,”Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether.”
WND did not receive a response to a request for clarification on his current position.
It’s unclear where Trump stands.
The business tycoon blasted the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage and has said the issue should be decided by the states.
Cruz’s “State Marriage Defense Act of 2015” has 14 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Lee, but not including presidential candidates Paul and Rubio.
The summary of the bill says it:
“Prohibits, for purposes of determining the meaning of any Act of Congress or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of U.S. administrative bureaus and agencies as applied with respect to individuals domiciled in a state or in any other territory or possession of the United States: (1) the term ‘marriage’ from including any relationship that the state, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage; and (2) the term ‘spouse’ from including an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that state, territory, or possession.”
Religious liberty bill
Lee told WND his legislation is meant to guarantee religious liberties.
On Monday, he wrote that his “First Amendment Defense Act” would “would prevent any agency from denying a federal tax exemption, grant, contract, accreditation, license, or certification to an individual or institution for acting on their religious belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”
It has 21 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Cruz and Rubio.
The House version, introduced by Labrador, has 69 co-sponsors.
WND interviewed Lee on June 3 and asked: If the Supreme Court were to legalize same-sex marriage, what might America look like if the bill does not become law?
“I fear that what could is happen is the government could start discriminating against religious individuals and religious institutions that have a religious belief about the definition of marriage.
“I don’t want that to happen. I hesitate to even imagine what an America that would have that as part of its legal system would look like. That’s why we need to pass this bill.”
Lee emphasized it was essential to not allow the government to even think about retaliating against religious individuals or institutions, whether churches or religious schools or otherwise, based on a religious belief.
Did he think his Democrat colleagues, many of them being people of faith themselves, would support such a bill?
“I would certainly hope so. This is not an issue that is distinctively Republican or Democratic, simply an American issue.”
Did he believe churches and schools might actually close?
“Certainly some of them could. I would hope they’d do everything they could to make sure they keep running. But one of the reasons why we recognize this tax-exempt status for religious colleges, universities, institutions, churches, synagogues and so forth, is because they are not in this business to make money.”
“They’re in this business to provide a service to mankind, consistent with their religious beliefs,” he concluded.
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth