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Ted Cruz on Same-Sex Marriage: ‘From the Very Beginning … It’s Been Up to the States’

Ted Cruz says same-sex marriage is a policy issue that should be decided by voters in the states and not by “five unelected lawyers in Washington.”

“If you want to change the marriage law, convince your fellow citizens to change the laws, and, by the way, it may end up that we’ve got 50 states and the laws in one state may be different than in another state,” Cruz said during an ABC Good Morning America (GMA) Town Hall Monday.

“We would expect that … we would expect the people of New York to have different laws perhaps from the people in California, Texas, or Florida, and that’s the great thing about a big, diverse country – that we can have different laws that respect different values.”

Cruz was asked a question from town hall attendee Todd Calogne, who introduced himself as a “lifelong Republican who has been married to my husband for two years now.”

“I’ve noticed a lot of religious freedom laws and somewhat institutionalized discrimination laws happening around the country,” Calogne said. “What would you do as president to protect me and my husband from institutionalized discrimination?”

Cruz responded:

When it comes to religious liberty, religious liberty is something that protects every one of us. It is the very first amendment – the very first phrase protected in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights. And religious liberty applies to Christians, it applies to Jews, it applies to Muslims, it applies to atheists. And – all of us – we want to live in a world where we don’t have the government dictating our beliefs, dictating how we live. We have a right to live according to our faith, according to our conscience, and that freedom ultimately protects each and every one of us, and we shouldn’t have the right to force others to knuckle under and give up their faith and give up their belief. For me, I have spent my entire adult life fighting to defend religious liberty, fighting to defend the freedom of every one of us to seek out and worship God, and I think keeping government out of the way of your lives protects the freedom of every one of us.

Co-host Robin Roberts, however, pressed Cruz, asking, “A lot of people would say, ‘doesn’t everybody have the freedom to be treated equally? Don’t we all have the freedom to be equal?’”

“Of course we do, and the first amendment protects everyone equally, it protects the faith of an orthodox Jew to follow his or her faith without government getting in the way and regulating kosher delis and restricting what can be served,” he responded to Roberts. “It protects the freedom of all of us.”

As has consistently been the case with Cruz, he views public policy issues — such as marriage and abortion – as issues to be decided by the people in individual states, a right he says that should not be taken away by “five unelected lawyers in Washington, D.C.”

Last October, in an interview with Breitbart News in New Hampshire, Cruz also said the states should take the lead on defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I encourage every state legislature and every governor to stand up and lead on Planned Parenthood,” the presidential contender said.

“You supported a constitutional amendment that would have the effect of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage,” continued GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos. “What would that mean for couples like Todd and his husband who already are married?”

“I am a constitutionalist, and under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states,” Cruz persisted. “That has been the case from the very beginning of this country, that it’s been up to the states.”

“So, if someone wants to change the marriage laws, I don’t think it should be five unelected lawyers down in Washington dictating that,” he added. “And even if you happen to agree with that particular decision, why would you want to hand over every important public policy issue to five unelected lawyers who aren’t accountable to you, don’t work for you?”

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