5 Presidential Candidates Were Asked If They'd Attend A Gay Wedding

April 23rd 2015

"Would you attend a gay wedding?" An iteration of this question was recently asked to several official and potential Republican 2016 candidates.

Today 54 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage and 36 states plus the District of Columbia allow the practice -- a far cry from 2003 when gay marriage was supported by only 32 percent of adult Americans, and Massachusetts was the only state where it was legalized. Next week the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of states' same-sex marriage bans. The implications of the SCOTUS's eventual decision are enormous, and the New York Times states their "decision widely expected to make same-sex marriage a national right."

Meanwhile, the 2016 presidential race is heating up. Gay marriage is typically seen as a wedge issue -- or one that divides along party lines. In a 2012 Pew Research study, two-thirds of Democrats said they support gay marriage. Some Republicans support traditional marriage at a federal level, but the states' right to decide on an individual basis, and a 2014 poll found that overall only 39 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage. (Though 61 percent of young GOP voters -- ages 18-29 -- favor same-sex marriage.)

It appears the media trying to whittle down candidates' stances to a basic level: would a candidate attend a gay wedding? Here are where the candidates stand:


Marco Rubio:

Last week Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced he was running for president -- and positioned himself as a candidate of the future. That same week Fusion's Jorge Ramos, asked Rubio if he'd attend a same-sex wedding of someone close to him, like a family or staff member.

"If there’s somebody that I love that’s in my life, I don’t necessarily have to agree with their decisions or the decisions they’ve made to continue to love them and participate in important events," Rubio said in the interview.

"Ultimately, if someone that you care for and is part of your family has decided to move in one direction or another or feels that way because of who they love, you respect that because you love them," he continued.

Sen. Rubio, a staunch Catholic conservative, has stated that he supports "traditional marriage" between a man and a woman. "I promise you even before this speech is over I’ll be attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who is anti-gay," Rubio stated during a 2014 speech at Catholic University. "This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Support for the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage."

Rubio is, however, courting younger voters and gay Republicans for support. On Sunday's "Face the Nation" Rubio stated that he does not believe that being gay is a choice. "In fact, the bottom line is that I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with," Rubio said. (At face value this comment is positive, however when taken in the context of Rubio's "traditional marriage" stance is rather irksome.)

The Florida Senator also previously condemned discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

However, ultimately he feels the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the states.

"Those who support same sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change state laws," Rubio said in that same 2014 speech. "But Americans who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge."

Rick Santorum:

Former Senator Rick Santorum is mulling over another presidential run. (He lost the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney in 2012.) Asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt if he'd attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one, Santorum responded that he would not.

"That would be something that would be a violation of my faith," Santorum told the host last week.

This answer falls in line with Rick Santorum's record on LGBTQ rights. Santorum is a staunch Catholic and has called LGBTQ rights a "threat," spoken out against allowing the LGBTQ community to participate in the Boy Scouts, sparred with the sex columnist Dan Savage over gay rights, and said that gay sex is not "equal" to heterosexual intercourse.

Ted Cruz:

Senator Ted Cruz was also asked by Hugh Hewitt if he'd attend a gay wedding. The Texas senator dodged the question entirely.

"I haven’t faced that circumstance,” he responded to Hewitt.

Cruz's overall stance towards gay marriage can be summed up by a recent interview with "Late Night" host Seth Meyers:

"Listen, I'm a constitutionalist. For over 200 years, marriage has been a question for the states. Now, personally, I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature, and change it. It shouldn't be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage — we should instead respect our constitutional system."

Cruz also supported Indiana's "religious freedom" law. Cruz, who announced his presidential candidacy in March of 2015, released the following statment:

“I want to commend Governor Mike Pence for his support of religious freedom, especially in the face of fierce opposition. There was a time, not too long ago, when defending religious liberty enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Alas, today we are facing a concerted assault on the First Amendment, on the right of every American to seek out and worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience. Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State. Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.”

John Kasich:

Ohio Governor John Kasich is another another potential GOP contender. On Sunday, April 19 Kasich was asked the "gay wedding question" by CNN's Sara Murray. In Kasich's response he revealed that he'd just been invited to a friend's wedding and that he would be attending.

"I went home and I said to my wife, 'my friend's getting married. What do you think? You wanna go?" Kasich explained. ""She goes, 'Oh, I'm absolutely going.' I called him today and said, 'Hey, just let me know what time it is,' My friend knows how I feel about the issue, but I'm not here to have a war with him. I care about my friend, and so it's pretty simple for me."

Kasich shares other conservatives' views that marriage should be between a man and a women. In 2014 when a federal judge in Ohio ruled that the state would have to recognize same-sex marriages that took place where it is legal, Kasich spoke out against the ruling. Ohio voted to ban same-sex marriages, and not recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in 2004.

"The people of the state, including me, voted years ago on a constitutional amendment to say that marriage is between a man and a woman," Kasich said. "(Black) has overruled that in some respects, and that’s what a federal judge can do. But it doesn’t change the fact of how people voted."

Rick Perry:

Rick Perry is another potential 2016 candidate -- though he has not yet formally announced a presidential bid. The former Governor of Texas was also asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would attend a same-sex wedding.

Perry said he would "probably" attend a same-sex wedding. He then turned the question into an opportunity to jab the other side, saying that the "real issue is that’s the ‘gotcha’ question that the left tries to get out there."

Perry's past comments on LGBTQ rights have come under fire. In 2014 he compared homosexuality to alcoholism.

"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," he reportedly said at a San Francisco event. "I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."

He later tried to clear the air on CNBC's "The Squawk Box."

"I don’t necessarily condone that lifestyle," Perry said. "I don’t condemn it, either. We’re all children of God. And the fact is that people will decide where they want to live if Washington will respect the Tenth Amendment."

The best response:

Jon Stewart perfectly summed up the responses on Tuesday's "The Daily Show":

Follow along for all of your 2016 election coverage.

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