Republican Candidates Respond To Obergefell About As Expected
The reaction of many of the GOP candidates to the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is about what you'd expect, but there are a few interesting surprises.
The Republican candidates for President have begin to chime on the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, and while some of the responses are about what you’d expect, others are a bit more interesting and point to what is likely to be an inevitable change in the GOP’s position on this issue:
The Supreme Court on Friday ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples nationwide have the constitutional right to marry, splitting the 2016 candidates sharply along partisan lines.
While Democratic candidates all hailed the decision as another marker for equality, the Republican response was more varied, with some expressing their objection more forcefully than others.
All the GOP hopefuls noted their personal objection to same-sex marriage and their belief that marriage should be left to the states. But while some firebrands — led by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — issued strong statements urging conservatives to fight, others, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, issued more muted statements.
The different reactions underscore the tough challenge facing Republican candidates in a deep field; namely, how to appeal to a conservative base that strongly opposes same-sex marriage without alienating a general-election audience that largely supports it.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to the “criminalization of Christianity,” issued perhaps the sharpest repudiation of the Supreme Court, warning Friday that the country “must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat,” in a statement on his website.
The ruling is about “marriage redefinition,” he wrote, adding that the “only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the decision “will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision.”
“This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty,” he added.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said “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.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham disagreed with that, saying he would respect the court’s decision and that instead of pursuing “a divisive effort” to overturn the ruling with Congress “that would be doomed to fail,” he would commit himself to “ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans.”
“While we have differences, it is time for us to move forward together respectfully and as one people,” he said in a statement.
Rick Santorum cited the Dred Scott decision as an indicator that the Supreme Court has not had a perfect track record.
“Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate,” Santorum said in a statement.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that America’s founding fathers “did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench.”
As president, Perry said in a statement, he would “appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another likely candidate, expressed disappointment with the decision but said the state would move forward.
Ben Carson said that while he did not agree with the decision, it is “now the law of the land,” calling on Congress to protect religious beliefs.
“I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs,” he said in a statement. “I support same sex civil unions but to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form.” ‘
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote, “While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. 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.”
Jeb Bush likewise struck a moderate tone, saying that the Supreme Court should have left marriage up to the states, but that Americans should “love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.”
“In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate,” he wrote.
Chris Christie, who is expected to announce his 2016 bid next week, said that he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent that the people should make this decision, noting his support and endorsement of New Jersey’s same-sex marriage law.
Other candidates have weighed as well. Carly Fiorina called the court’s decision the latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is and not what the law should be.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said the decision is evidence of the Federal Government’s intention “to go after people who believe in traditional views of marriage,” that the decision damages the legitimacy of the Court, and that it would give momentum to calls for a Constitutional Convention. As of the time this post is being written, some five and a half hours after the decision was handed down, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has not made any statements regarding the ruling,
To a large degree, of course, the comments issued by candidates such as Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz are entirely unsurprising. These are men with deep roots in the religious conservative and evangelical political movements, and those are the constituencies that they are largely relying on for support, especially in states such as Iowa and South Carolina. There’s no actual chance that anything they’re talking about is ever g0ing to become law. There will be no Constitutional Amendment to overturn Obergefell. There will no Article V Convention. There may be some resistance to this ruling by the remaining thirteen states where laws against same-sex marriage, but eventually they too will be required to comply with this ruling. As far as the political and legal arguments about marriage are concerned, the debate is over even if some of the people to whom these candidates are speaking don’t recognize it yet. The candidates, I think, know it too, but they are saying what they need to say to advance their own political careers and agendas. Yea, it’s cynical but that’s how politics works. We’re going to through at least one more election cycle where candidates like these play the same rhetorical games they have been for years, but it’s largely sound and fury signifying nothing.
The more interesting responses, I think, have been from candidates such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to some extent Chris Christie, who’s comments aren’t all that different from the way he reacted to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s marriage decision. Ben Carson’s comments have a similar tone, which is interesting because it was only a couple weeks ago that he was saying that the states should free to ignore the Supreme Court.. Rand Paul’s comments in the past have also been in line with this position for the most part, and I’d expect his eventual statement will be similar to what he’s said in the past about marriage issues. With each of these, they are at the very least making clear that they accept the Court’s decision and recognize its authority even if they disagree with it. This is a markedly different tone from the candidates pandering to the social conservatives, and it suggests to me at least that there’s some desire on the part of these second group of candidates to put an end to the marriage wars now that the Court has spoken. There also seems to be at least a slight cracking of the door in these statements toward the idea of just accepting the fact that same-sex couples can now get legally married. I doubt we’ll see the Republican Party change its position on marriage radically before the 2016 election, but it could change slightly and if it does it will be these candidates and others that lead the way.
As I noted in my thoughts about the decision today, there will be other issues that arise even now that the issue of marriage equality has been resolved once and for all. All of the statements from the Republican candidates spoke to one of those issues, namely the issue of religious liberty and the question whether and how people outside of government can be compelled to recognize a marriage that conflicts with their religious beliefs. Starting with the easiest issue, it seems obvious that churches and pastors cannot be forced to conduct or host same-sex marriage if it conflicts their religious beliefs. This would be a rather obvious violation of the First Amendment. To be honest, though, the only people I see bringing that issue up are people on the right raising the specter of religious oppression as the consequence of marriage equality. Justices Roberts and Alito both bring this up in their dissents, and it’s been a common talking point online among conservatives. Beyond that, of course, the issues get more complicated and deal with many of the issues raised during the battles over religious freedom laws in Indiana and elsewhere earlier this year. We can expect to see those battles continue, especially since the religious freedom issue, and the latent paranoia of imminent persecution, are something that seem to play very well among hardcore social conservatives.
Beyond all that, th0ugh, the responses of many of the Republican candidates are about what one would have expected. Others, though, seem to be preparing themselves, their constituents, and their party, for the shift that will inevitably come now that the Supreme Court has spoken. It will be interesting to watch
I can’t wait to see how the paragon of principle tries to ride the fence between Libertarianism and pandering to the base.
But I’m left asking about Republicans…why do these people hate freedom so much????
@C. Clavin: And in the case of Walmart etc. deciding not to sell Confederate flag themed merchandise, why do they hate free enterprise.
While every single one of these people is busy arguing that they are better than gay people…they are actually proving that they are less.
Oh, Doug–if you want to dive into the hysterical “we’re all DOOOMED” mindset, wander over to TAC and read the stuff that Rod Dreher has been busily churning out (or reprinting from like-minded readers.) He’s waving the bloody red flag of a “closeted Christian” law professor who also has jumped on the Armageddon bandwagon and seems to be convinced that the next thing we’ll be seeing is all sorts of legal restrictions against tradcons.
Oh, and they’re all of them running around with their hair flaming screeching “POLYGAMY NEXT!!!” in spite of all of us with legal backgrounds trying to point out that it’s much harder to change marriage and family law to take account of polygamous setups, plus there’s not the demand for such a change yet.
Sometimes I think Rod likes to panic. He’s certainly got a bunch of lunatics around him.
@C. Clavin: In the words of Sammy Davis Jr. when speaking to Archie Bunker, “if you were prejudiced you’d walk around thinking that you’re better than anybody else in the world. But I can honestly say, after spending these marvelous moments with you, you ain’t better than anybody.”
@C. Clavin: Also, he’s pulling a Mitt Romney. Everybody with an attachment to reality expected this decision. Paul’s had months to figure out a position.
It’s fun to make fun of the bigots and homophobes on Facebook, but man is it depressing when people who would be our leaders act this way. My hope is that they are the start of a dying breed.
Man I do not like this politically. We’ll have the crazies onstage with Jeb and Rubio making J and R look rational by contrast. I don’t want Jeb looking rational. Hopefully he’ll lose his nerve and try to outdo the nuts, but I can’t believe his people are dumb enough to allow that.
This is the inflection point where the GOP either sidles away from the crazies or doubles down and loses 55-45 to Hillary.
@michael reynolds: What you’re describing is something I’ve noticed for a while in politics, and it doesn’t only concern social issues. It has to do with what happens when some Republicans start saying things that are totally, utterly nuts, and then any Republican who fails to go along is immediately labeled as a “moderate.”
I noticed it in 2011, when you had the likes of Trump, Bachmann, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum…. and there was this assumption that Romney was the “reasonable, moderate” one. I kept saying, “Doesn’t anyone notice that he compared Obama to King George III and said, ‘We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free-market economy’?”
It happened again during the government shutdown fiasco of 2013, when the media began labeling as a “moderate” any Republican who didn’t think shutting the government down was an effective tool for pursuing their goal of absolute opposition to anything Obama did.
The whole thing reminds me of that old Onion article about the “Iraqi Gandhi” who criticizes the 9/11 hijackers for having destroyed both towers.
Well, supposedly the guy pushing Trump in Iowa has a secret plan….
If Trump starts looking like he’s a serious contender, I expect all hell to break loose.
That’s what happens when your base is nutso.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that America’s founding fathers “did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench.”
As president, Perry said in a statement, he would “appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.”
But Bush v. Gore was really good stuff, huh?
Remember this has happened before the Republican primary. You better believe this is gonna pop up in Republican debates, and any Republican who doesn’t uphold the rights of Christians to discriminate is going to be slaughtered in the polls.
I agree with your analysis that gay marriage and gay rights becoming a settled cultural issue would help Republicans in the long run, but their own fundamentalist rhetoric paints them into a corner. I expect a doubling down with calls for Constitutional Amendments.
The most insidious thing that could happen is a Roe vs Wade style outcome where the Right starts a terrorism campaign against gay marriage and starts killing equality minded pastors, government officials, and gay couples with arson, bombings, and assassinations, and then suddenly gay marriage is “legal” in Kansas the same way abortion is “legal.”
@michael reynolds: Cons always bitch that people voted for Obama only because he’s black. The best estimate I saw said that it COST O maybe 6% in 2008. Never saw a comparable estimate for 2012, but other things being equal, a white Obama might well have taken McCain or Romney by 55-45. I always thought 2008 was closer than it should have been given that the economy had just tanked under W. 55-45 for Hillary strikes me as entirely possible. And coattails. Do pants suits have tails?
@michael reynolds: “This is the inflection point where the GOP . . . doubles down and loses 55-45 to Hillary.” Again, from your post to God’s ears.
I’m hoping W keeps talking and hangs like an albatross around Jeb’s neck.
I remain convinced that “Kingsfield” is a figment of Dreher’s imagination – an invented means of trying to couch his own biases in the imprimatur of the law. He has, quite frankly, crossed the line from disturbed to completely unhinged.
Love the calls for a constitutional amendment. At this point, you’d have a better chance of getting a pro-SSM amendment passed.
@grumpy realist: At least polygamy is Biblical. How do they argue against that?
@HarvardLaw92: That would explain why “Kingsfield” sounds unhinged as well….
You’d think that a supposed law professor would have more faith in the First Amendment and the judicial system.
As I pointed out in an earlier thread, there is a particularly bitter poison pill in this for Texas bigots.
Texas is a common-law marriage state.
The Texas statutes describing the necessary conditions for common-law marriage do not (as most states do) specify “a man and a woman”, but instead refer to any couple legally entitled to be married.
The Texas statutes do not establish a minimum duration of cohabitation necessary for common-law marriage.
As of tomorrow, any gay couple in Texas who are cohabiting can declare themselves to be spouses — and they will be correct.
Is it automatic in Texas or do you have to declare that you intend to be married. It would be hilarious if roommates all over Texas suddenly realized that they were now married.
What is the anti-SSM call to action? A constitutional amendment? Even the complete naïfs know that’s a non-starter.
The more I think about this the less I like it politically. Obviously the larger matter is that gay citizens are now more free and more equal.
But as a political matter this issue is effectively dead. It’ll be a few weeks before the reality sinks in, but this isn’t going to be another Roe v. Wade. The anti-abortion movement has actual arguments to advance. I don’t agree with them, but while the anti-SSM forces have really nothing to say, it is possible to make a rational case in opposition to abortion.
Anti-gay sentiment will linger, as racism has, but the legal war is over bar some local clean-up. The gay activists will still claim there’s much to do, but the issue is over. Victory has been declared which means that both armies will disband. The right will have to go beat up on brown people, and the pro-gay forces – straights and gays – will now stack arms and go home.
Good for the country, bad for Democrats because anti-gay actions on the right dug an unbridgeable moat between us and them. A moat which no longer exists. There will be conservative and moderate voters who found GOP gay-bashing nauseating, who will now feel free to reconsider whether or not Republicans have returned to sanity.
On the GOP debate stage you’ll have Huckabee ranting about SSM while most of the others check their watches. The message to voters will be that the GOP is now embarrassed by and shedding the crazies. A base that’s splintered between Huckabee, Santorum, Carson, Jindal, Cruz and Trump will not be able to deny the nom to Jeb or Rubio.
The political reality is that the SCOTUS just did the GOP a big favor.
@Grewgills: In all states that I’m aware of, common-law marriage requires a “holding out to the public” that the two of you are married, so no, roommates by themselves aren’t at risk.
I’m surprised that romance writers didn’t immediately jump on the common-law marriage thing in Texas for their favorite trope: “couple inadvertently married.” They’ve certainly been milking the “declaration in front of witnesses” in Scottish common-law marriage enough as a plot twist in Regency romances….
“Your hoss holding up all right, Bella Lou?”
“Oh John Lloyd, ah’m awfully tired. Cain’t we stop fur the night?”
“Gee, Bella Lou, with this here festival, there’s no spare rooms for love nor money. The best we could do is mah cousin Arabelle puttin’ us up, and she only got one spare room.”
“John Lloyd, you mean to tell me youah cousin doesn’t have a sofa?!”
“Oh, she’s got a sofa, but ol’ Herkimer the dawg likes to sleep on it and since he’s a hunnert, hunnert-thirty pounds he’s a mite hard to move. Guess we’ll have to take the twin beds. And since Arabelle’s a good Christian woman, we’re gonna have pretend we’re married. Otherwise she’ll whollop me with her ol’ cast iron frying pan before I step one foot on the porch.”
Somehow it doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere….
No, you do have to represent yourselves publicly as being married. That, plus any cohabitation, is enough.
Or, it was? When I look at the statute now, it says “a man and a woman”. I wonder if that has changed in recent times. Rats. Never mind.
That may be true, but Franklin Graham (he who makes his living off Billy Graham’s fame) just doubled down on the crazy today – and he’s far from alone.
I actually think this will land like a hurricane against the house of cards that is the Republican base. The crazy end-timers vs. the pragmatic 1%ers have never been so far apart.
@michael reynolds: I’ve doubled up on my reading of comments at right-wing websites these last couple of days. It’s been wonderful to imagine them tearing up the carpet and chewing the wallpaper. One theme that pops up again and again is blaming GWBush for the disaster because he nominated CJ Roberts. Time after time they compare 43’s naming Roberts to 41’s naming of Justice Souter. Repeatedly they transfer this tendency to fail conservatism to JEB! and say he’s lost any chance of being nominated.
Small and unrepresentative sample, of course. But I’ve learned to trust them to give a snapshot of RWNJ opinion.
Redstate has apparently had several commenters ‘terminated with prejudice’ for suggesting ‘2d amendment solutions’. They post warnings on their comment thread that anyone suggesting an armed response to this tyranny is off their board for good.
FWIW, Fox News TV has covered the headlines and then gone into depth over 15 E-Mails that Hillary forgot to turn over and to refuting a study showing right-wing terrorists have killed more Americans since 9/11. Almost nothing about the intricacies of the decisions is covered.
Gov. Christie has released a statement – “I believe that marriage is between one man and four cheeseburgers”…
Doug, I’m going to have to borrow this line:
It amazes me that in a country that is at least 70% Christian that people could feel that way, yet they do.
@anjin-san: Come on, you’re better than that.
@Rob Prather: Why should it amaze you? The very foundation of Christianity is persecution and martyrdom. It’s not at all surprising they would view everything through that lens.
Who cares what the Republicans are saying about same-sex marriage? None of the candidates stand a chance of ever being president and none of them have any real effect on policy or governance in the U.S.
What is more amazing but not mentioned by the media is the Supreme Court ruling on the Fair Housing Act. That no Republican candidate is willing to discuss the impacts of the Supreme Court rulings shows why the Republicans are irrelevant and how the Democrats will operate in the future.
@DrDaveT: Good to know. My 2nd (?) cousin who has been living with the same woman for over 50 years is now married. Here’s to you Bobby June.
What I took away from reading Dreher and his commenters is that persecution complexes are a form of narcissism.
Now replace those characters with Bo and Luke Hazzard, and you got yerself some comedy gold.
In terms of legacy, Obama is moving from the “good” category of Presidents toward the “great”. He ain’t in Mount Rushmore territory yet but he’s definitely pushing into the Top Ten. If he can get the Iran nuclear deal done, he definitely will be Top Ten.
I remember when the OP tweeted that Obama was in the bottom five…
@HarvardLaw92: Thought the name was interesting, so I googled it and found the first TAC link where Drefer first brings this “Kingsfield” up. He starts by summarizing the premise of MacIntyre’s After Virtue in noting that we lack a common morality from which to argue with each other. I was all, “Hey, this guy’s read a book!” Then he started talking about banning gay people and persecution of Christians and more nonsense than you could shake a stick at. He noted the problem, and then he ignored how the solution he put forward is one of the ideas the author of the book wrote was completely crazy.
Not in those exact words, but he wrote it in minor philosophese so it comes out dryer and fancier in writing.
@JohnMcC: Yesterday I was watching Fox for the coverage they’d give of the eulogy the president delivered. They just noted there was a eulogy and went back to discussing gay marriage. The substance of their report on the gay marriage case? Mostly talking about Roberts’s dissent and judicial restraint (the same thing that had him vote for Obamacare) and mentioned Scalia got a couple of zingers (without mentioning how his dissents in both cases were contradictory of each other).
It must be a blessed state to be that dumb and unaware.
Get off of that cross Gov. Huckabee, we need the wood…
I am particularly irritated by allegedly educated Christians who are unaware that this has always been true — even within Christianity. There has never been agreement among Christians on which scriptures were authoritative, how to interpret the ones that were, or the relative importance of actions and attitudes, reason and faith, justice and mercy.
Which means that even Christians who believe their morality consists merely in following God’s directions are in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to needing to develop an independent reliable system for telling right from wrong. Indeed, the Christians have the harder task — they have to come up with a system that not only works, but can be made consistent with at least some coherent interpretation of some set of accepted scriptures.
The only Christians that have been fed to lions in decades are the idiots who kept them as pets.
The reality is that some are finally getting 1/100th a taste of what it’s like to be Jewish during Christmas. e.g. “I said “Merry Christmas” to the clerk in that store, and he, like, totally didn’t wish me the same back but instead said ‘Happy Holidays’.”
Or, like what John Scalzi said about “straight white male” being the lowest difficulty setting on the game of life.
@michael reynolds: That is the underlying political problem for liberals. Every victory becomes baked in the cake, taken for granted, even claimed by conservatives. The electorate are short on gratitude, what with being a box of rocks with no memory beyond six months. What have you liberals done for me lately?
I expected to condemn this abomination more forcefully than they did.
This is not normal. It is a slippery slope and pedophilia, beastiality, incest, polygamy, and any other number of perversions will soon follow.
If you fundamentally redefine marriage as any relationship involving love, what is to stop a 50 year old father from marrying his ten year old daughter — or for that matter his 10 year old daughter and his nine year old son?
What is to stop someone from marrying the family pet?
This case is a huge win for groups like NAMBLA. It gives its imprimatur to one defiant lifestyle, so they can harbor hope that their similarly deviant lifestyle will be normalized. All they have to say is that a relationship between a 40 year old man and a 10 year old boy is predictated upon love and Anthony Kennedy will be A-OK with it.
This is the road to perdition. This is not normal.
In your zeal to attack Christianity, you people have not fully thought through the consequences of this. You have legalized perversion and deviancy and it will be the road to ruin.
You will regret this when a 40 year old man “marries” your ten year old son in a few years.
This doesn’t settle anything.
I get you people thought the fact that seven jack holes in robes voted to legalized killing babies in the womb in 1973 settled the abortion debate. It did not.
The fact that five jack holes in robes voted to legalize perversion and deviancy this week doesn’t settle anything.
SCOTUS does not have any enforcement mechanism. Are Kennedy and the Wise Latina going to send federal marshals to Mississippi and Alabama to arrest every Christian county clerk who refuses to comply?
If I were a county clerk in Texas I would simply REFUSE to issue a license which condones perversion. Let Kagan and Breyer try to arrest me. Conservatives should simply REFUSE to comply with the rulings of this rogue court.
@Liberal With Attitude: Bo and Luke Hazzard? WTF?
Keep telling yourself that! The rest of us will be celebrating, and living in reality.
@anjin-san: Touche’. Still think you’re better than the cheeseburger remark. Mmmm. Cheeseburgers.
I spent 12 hours writing (and rewriting and rewriting) ad copy on Friday, there was very little creative gas left in the tank last night…
@Onward Christian Soldiers: Your tears of rage taste so sweet! Keep crying you delusional whiner…
@Onward Christian Soldiers:
On the contrary; it’s about as ordinary a troll as we’ll ever see.
@anjin-san: no worries, man. You’re one of the good ones and I know that. You still have me craving cheeseburgers, though.
@anjin-san: I should also add I hadn’t heard the “come down off the cross” joke in a few years. Now that I’m reminded, I’ll be using it.
@Onward Christian Soldiers: I know it’s hard to believe but I’m seeing this crap all over the internet. I think people actually believe it.
And of course there’s the oldie but goodie….