2016 Candidates Respond to SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Carlos McKnight holds up a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2015.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Contenders for the 2016 presidential race are commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision that declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

Most Republicans were critical of the decision and expressed deep concerns that religious liberty granted by the First Amendment would not be subservient to the Court’s ruling.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said: “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.”

Jindal tapped into fears that the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. has been enacted at the expense of religious freedom.

“Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that,” he said. “This 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.”

“The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies,” Jindal added. “That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee likened the Supreme Court to “an imperial British monarch.”

“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do – redefine marriage,” he said in a press release. “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Huckabee continued that the Court’s decision is less about equality than about the redefinition of marriage.

“This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many,” he said. “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.”

Huckabee added:

The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.

In a Facebook post, candidate Carly Fiorina echoed the notion that the Supreme Court has ignored its constitutional responsibility in arriving at its decision on same-sex marriage.

“This is only the latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is and not what the law should be,” she said. “Justice Alito spoke for so many of us when he said that ‘[t]oday’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage…All Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.’”

Fiorina said that while she has always supported the view that all Americans should receive equal benefits and rights from the government under the law, she does not support the redefinition of marriage.

“I do not agree that the Court can or should redefine marriage,” she emphasized. “I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country.”

Fiorina concurs that religious liberty must be protected as the nation moves on from this case.

“[A]ll of our effort should be focused on protecting the religious liberties and freedom of conscience for those Americans that profoundly disagree with today’s decision,” she wrote. “The Court did not and could not end this debate today. Let us continue to show tolerance for those whose opinions and sincerely held beliefs differ from our own. We must lead by example, finding a way to respect one another and to celebrate a culture that protects religious freedom while promoting equality under the law.”

Dr. Ben Carson said in a press release that he supports civil unions, but believes marriage is a “religious service, not a government form.”

“While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land,” he said.

“I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected,” Carson added. “The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.”

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said, “Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input.”

Santorum pointed to other cases in which “the Court has an imperfect track record,” such as Dred Scott and Plessy.

“The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government,” he said. “The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.”

“But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path,” Santorum continued. “Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best.”

Though he has not officially declared his candidacy, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker referred to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage as “a grave mistake.”

“Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia,’” Walker said, referencing Justice Kennedy.

“The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas,” he continued. “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.”

“The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow ‘right to worship,’ but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs,” Walker added, calling on the President Obama and the governors of the states to assure “millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience.”

Taking to Twitter – where she has incorporated the gay pride rainbow flag into her initial “H” on her account – Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a different approach. She said she is “proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality – & the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible.”


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