Social conservatives urge Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) to apologize for backing gay marriage


Democrat Alex Sink (C) and Republican David Jolly shake hands before participating in a candidate forum earlier this year. (REUTERS/Brian Blanco )

Updated at 11:08 p.m.

Five dozen social conservatives in Florida sent a letter to Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) urging him to apologize for announcing support for same-sex marriage earlier this week.

"We call upon you to publicly apologize for this mistake and hold fast to your original position that states should define marriage as it has always been, the union of one man and one woman only. We also challenge you to not cower to the pressure, demands and intimidation of homosexual activists," reads the letter, distributed by the Florida Family Policy Council, a conservative organization.

The letter is signed by "campaign volunteers, financial supporters and constituents," who are named at the bottom.

In a letter to constituents released after the Florida Family Policy Council's reaction, Jolly insisted he did not flip-flop.

"My position has not changed on this matter and my recent statement reflected exactly statements that I made during this year’s special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District," said Jolly, pointing to a television interview in which he addressed the matter.

Jolly became the eighth current Republican member of Congress to come out in support of gay marriage on Monday. He announced his position in response to a question from The Washington Post, in light of a Florida judge's decision to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," Jolly told The Post in a statement. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state."

That explanation didn't go over well with those who wrote him the letter.

"We reject your illusory and false dichotomy between your 'personal views' and 'public views' as a legislator as you made no such distinction during your campaign. Liberals for years have made the same arguments to deceptively triangulate on other moral issues," they write.

Jolly was elected in a Tampa-area swing district earlier this year in a special election. He is not expected to have much trouble winning reelection in November.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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