Friend or Foe?
By Steve Deace
It’s easy for politicians to jump on the bandwagon when the polls and momentum are in your favor, but it’s when your back is against the wall that you truly find out who has just a position and who really has a conviction.
To that end, I decided to scan the media to find out what national figures in the Republican Party were saying in response to the SCOTUS opinions on marriage yesterday. Marriage and the issues involving morality and sexuality that accompany it are fundamental to existence itself, for they answer vital questions such as in whose image are we made, what is the purpose of gender, how do perpetuate the species, and ultimately what value system do we instill in the next generation.
Marriage remains one of the most popular issues within the Republican Party base, and one of the most successful issues in the country. It’s won 31 of the 35 elections (89%) it’s been contested. No other right-of-center issue can match that level of success. The issue remains a key plank in the party platform as well.
In alphabetical order I will give you exact quotes from several key national figures in the GOP in response to yesterday’s turn of events, and then you can decide for yourself if that person is a friend or foe.
House Speaker John Boehner
“While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balance. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate
I could find no public record of any comment from Bush on the issue.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate
Christie said the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act was “wrong,” calling it an example of judicial overreach. “I don’t think the ruling was appropriate, I think it was wrong,” Christie said on his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio show.
“It’s typical of the problem we see in the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Court, without a basis in standing, substituted their own judgment for the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. […] It’s another example of Judicial supremacy.”
Last February, Christie vetoed a bill that would have legalized gay marriage in New Jersey, rationalizing that New Jersey already permitted civil unions that were, for many purposes, equivalent to marriage. But the federal government won’t recognize civil unions when extending benefits to gay couples.
If another bill came to his desk, Christie said he would veto it again. However, he said he would be open to a ballot referendum.
“If the people of New Jersey want to amend our Constitution in order to make same-sex marriage legal they have every right to do it, and the only people who can give them that opportunity is the New Jersey State Legislature,” Christie said. “I wouldn’t object to it, but they [Democrats] don’t want to put it on the ballot, and I don’t know why.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate
“Today’s Supreme Court decisions on marriage are a regrettable overreach against the will of the people as expressed through large, bipartisan majorities in Congress and directly through referendum in California – a markedly blue state
Nothing in the Constitution compelled this result, and, once again, the Court has chosen to substitute its own views of public policy for the democratically expressed will of the voters.
The family is the fundamental building block of society, and I strongly support traditional marriage between one man and one woman. The voters of California made that same choice, until the courts improperly substituted their preferences for those of the people.
Our Federalism allows different states to make different policy judgments based on the values and mores of their citizens. Federal courts should respect that diversity and uphold that popular sovereignty, not impose their own policy agenda.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate
“I believe every child deserves a mom and a dad. This opinion leaves the matter of marriage to the states where people can decide. In Louisiana, we will opt for traditional marriage.”
Arizona Senator John McCain, 2008 GOP presidential nominee
I could find no public record of any comment from McCain on the issue. But the man that ran his 2008 presidential campaign is now working with the ACLU to overturn state constitutional amendments defining marriage.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate
According to Politico: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) simply flashed a smile and ignored a reporter’s question about the court’s decision Wednesday.” McConnell’s home state is one that has already defined marriage in its state constitution.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, possible 2016 presidential candidate
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told ABC News he believes the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act was appropriate, and that the issue should be left to the states. He praised Justice Anthony Kennedy for avoiding “a cultural war.” Paul said he agreed with Kennedy, whom he called “someone who doesn’t just want to be in front of opinion but wants government to keep up with opinion.” He said Kennedy “tried to strike a balance.”
“As a country we can agree to disagree,” Paul said today, stopping for a moment to talk as he walked through the Capitol. “As a Republican Party, that’s kind of where we are as well. The party is going to have to agree to disagree on some of these issues.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus
As of 10 a.m. eastern time this morning, a full 24 hours following the publication of the SCOTUS opinions, the national party chairman has said absolutely nothing.
Mitt Romney, 2012 GOP presidential nominee
I could find no public record of any comment from Romney on the matter. Note that I did not include any other previous GOP presidential nominees because they are not currently active in party politics as Romney still is.
Former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove of American Crossroads
As of 10 a.m. eastern time this morning, a full 24 hours following the publication of the SCOTUS opinions, he has said absolutely nothing. Neither had his organization American Crossroads. In fact, their website hasn’t been updated with any new news since May 17th.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, potential 2016 presidential candidate
“I believe the Supreme Court made a serious mistake today when it overstepped its important, but limited role. I do not believe that President Clinton and overwhelming bipartisan majorities of both houses of Congress acted with malice or intent to ‘demean’ a class of people when they adopted a uniform definition of marriage for the purposes of federal law. The Court should not have second guessed the will of the American people acting through their elected representatives without firm constitutional justifications. The sweeping language of today’s majority opinion is more troubling than the ruling itself as it points to further interference by the Court in the years to come.
“I recognize that the definition of marriage and the legal status of same-sex relationships is a deeply personal and emotional issue for Americans of a variety of viewpoints. These types of disagreements should be settled through the democratic process, as the Founders intended, not through litigation and court pronouncements.
“For millions of Americans, the definition of marriage is not an abstract political question, or some remote legal debate. It’s a deeply personal issue. It’s an issue that I have grappled with as well.
“I believe that marriage is a unique historical institution best defined as the union between one man and one woman. In the U.S., marriage has traditionally been defined by state law, and I believe each state, acting through their elected representatives or the ballot, should decide their own definition of marriage. For the purposes of federal law, however, Congress had every right to adopt a uniform definition and I regret that the Supreme Court would interfere with that determination.
“I appreciate that many Americans’ attitude towards same-sex marriage have changed in recent years. I respect the rights of states to allow same-sex marriages, even though I disagree with them. But I also expect that the decisions made by states like Florida to define marriage as between one man and one woman will also be respected.
“I do not believe there exists a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Therefore, I am glad the Supreme Court did not create one in the Proposition 8 case.
“Rather than having courts redefine marriage for all Americans, my hope is that the American people, through their state legislatures and referendums, can continue to decide the definition of marriage. It is through debates like this that the brilliance of our constitutional system of democracy, and the inherit goodness of our people, is revealed.
“My hope is that those of us who believe in the sanctity and uniqueness of traditional marriage will continue to argue for its protection in a way that is respectful to the millions of American sons and daughters who are gay. It is also my hope that those who argue for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will refrain from assailing the millions of Americans who disagree with them as bigots.”
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, 2012 presidential candidate and possible 2016 presidential candidate
“I’m incredibly disappointed that the Supreme Court would continue a pattern of stepping in and making decisions that were very clearly left for the public and the Congress to make. The Founding Fathers established a country that said that the people are the ones who get to make these decisions. Not five unelected people on the Supreme Court. And the federal government has a right in my mind to define what marriage is. Just like every state has a right to determine and define what marriage is. These are not decisions that were to be implemented by the court. They’re to be handled by the collective will of the American public, that’s how our republic functions. And, when the Supreme Court steps in and says ‘No, we’re the ones who know best how to decide these things,’ I think it’s a real problematic issue in our society. And whether you’re on the left or on the right, the idea that a court should have the power to take this power away and freedom away from the American public to make these decisions to me is very, very disconcerting.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, possible 2016 presidential candidate
I could find no record of any public comments from Walker.
Given the nature of the SCOTUS opinions yesterday, it could be argued that how the Republicans in your state react is even more important, so I checked to see what my Republican governor and my state party chairman had to say on the matter. I suggest you should do the same.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad
A spokesman for the governor said he would need time to review the ruling before commenting on it.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker
“Today’s decision on DOMA is an interesting one, as it covers a hot-button issue that has strong opinions on both sides. As Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, I am proud to defend the principles laid out in our party’s platform. One such plank is an affirmation that marriage is between one man and one woman. I firmly agree with traditional marriage and am quite comfortable defending traditional marriage regardless of this court ruling. Though some of my conservative colleagues have expressed concern with the Supreme Court’s ruling today, I believe there are some positives we can take from it, including the decision that individual states should be able to play a larger role in how they define marriage.
“The court today chose a much different path than it did with a decision like Roe v. Wade over 40 years ago. The Supreme Court did not affirm gay marriage, and did not guarantee it’s existence as a Constitutionally guaranteed right, as it incorrectly stated in the Roe decision. Rather the court stated the federal government did not have the authority to deny gay marriage in states in which it already existed. This is a very important distinction to make and one that can be used by traditional marriage advocates going forward. It seems that some may not be examining the full decision in its context. While gay marriage advocates seem to be applauding this decision, the court stated that the issue was first and foremost one to be left to the states. I firmly believe that this states’ rights position is a decision that traditional values advocates can use to stand up for marriage all across the country and in 38 of the 50 states that do not recognize gay marriage.
“Contrary to much of what is being reported in the media, I believe this decision can actually become a victory for the supporters of traditional values in the future. If you look at the 12 states that allow gay marriage, everyone did so by the will of the people via direct vote or through their representatives; every one that is, except for Iowa. Here in Iowa we saw activist judges decide for themselves what the definition of marriage was. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the only logical conclusion is to allow the people of Iowa to be permitted to vote on the definition of marriage within our state. The best way to uphold freedom and defend our values as both Americans and Iowans is to remove the activist judges completely from the decision making progress. We should let the people of Iowa decide what they wish the definition of marriage to be, and not activist judges.”
(You can friend “Steve Deace” on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow)