GOP 2016 hope­fuls weigh court’s gay mar­riage punt

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Some po­ten­tial 2016 GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates said the Supreme Court decision to let same-sex mar­riage stand in dozens of states set­tles the is­sue — but re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives vowed to con­tinue to fight, say­ing op­pos­ing gay mar­riage re­mains a lit­mus test for White House hope­fuls.

Robert Van­der Plaats, head of Fam­ily Leader, a Christian con­ser­va­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion in Iowa, home of the first pres­i­den­tial cau­cuses, said would-be can­di­dates will have to lay out a strat­egy for fight­ing back.

“What is your lead­er­ship strat­egy to right this ship? What’s your rem­edy to this left­ist takeover by judges, who are fly­ing in the face of ‘the Laws of Na­ture and Na­ture’s God?’” he said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, one of those eye­ing a 2016 bid, has al­ready risen to the chal­lenge. The Texas Repub­li­can, who re­cently won the pres­i­den­tial straw poll at the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil’s Val­ues Voter Sum­mit, called the court’s decision “tragic” and vowed to in­tro­duce a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that would bar “the fed­eral gov­ern­ment or the courts from at­tack­ing or strik­ing down state mar­riage laws.”

The fight stems from jus­tices’ decision not to hear ap­peals of a string of lower-court de­ci­sions that struck down gay mar­riage bans in Ok­la­homa, Utah, Vir­ginia, Wis­con­sin and In­di­ana. The jus­tices did not ex­plain their decision, but at least four votes on the nine-judge court are needed to add the cases to the docket.

For­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee, win­ner of the 2008 Iowa cau­cuses, called the court’s decision “cowardly.”

But other prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans took a more muted ap­proach, with some seem­ingly ea­ger to use the court de­ci­sions to try to push the GOP past the hot-but­ton so­cial is­sue.

Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker, a po­ten­tial 2016 White House can­di­date, said the court’s re­fusal to take up the cases means the is­sue was now set­tled for his state.

“In light of the ac­tion by the United States Supreme Court, Wis­con­sin will up­hold the law as set by the fed­eral Court of Ap­peals,” said Walker spokesper­son Lau­rel Pa­trick.

In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, also men­tioned as a can­di­date, said “peo­ple are free to dis­agree with court de­ci­sions, but we are not free to dis­obey them.”

“Hoosiers may be as­sured that I and my ad­min­is­tra­tion will up­hold the rul­ings of our fed­eral courts con­cern­ing mar­riage in the poli­cies and prac­tices of our state,” Mr. Pence said. “As gov­er­nor of all the peo­ple of In­di­ana I am con­fi­dent that Hoosiers will con­tinue to demon­strate the ci­vil­ity for which we are known and re­spect the be­liefs of all peo­ple in our state.”

Op­pos­ing gay mar­riage used to be a po­lit­i­cal win­ner. In 2004, then-Pres­i­dent George W. Bush was aided in his re-elec­tion bid by evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers who turned out in droves to vote for state gay-mar­riage bans, and who also pulled the level for him. Can­di­date Barack Obama de­clined to support gay mar­riage when run­ning for of­fice in 2008.

But polls have been shift­ing over the last decade as Americans be­come more com­fort­able with same-sex unions, and the GOP has been wrestling with the is­sue in­ter­nally. Some state Repub­li­can or­ga­ni­za­tions have dropped their plat­form planks de­fend­ing mar­riage as the union of a man and a woman, and some Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill have an­nounced their support for gay mar­riage, in­clud­ing Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio, whose son is gay and who is flirt­ing with a pres­i­den­tial run.

Cruz

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