“If someone in your family or your office that happens to be gay and they invite you to their wedding, would you go?”
With that simple question, Fusion’s Jorge Ramos has managed to turn the aspirants for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination into contortionists on marriage equality. They are all against same-sex weddings, but their answers, ranging from humane to heartless, demonstrate clearly how out of step most of them are with a country that favors marriage equality.
Ramos posed his query to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) during an interview last week. The Republican presidential candidate, who believes that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman, gave an answer that put him closer to but still not a part of the American mainstream.
Rubio: If there’s someone 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. I’m a member of the Catholic faith. It teaches that marriage is, that after you get married the first time, if you’ve been divorced you can’t be remarried. And, yet, people attend second marriages all the time. Ultimately, how you treat a person that you care for and love is different from what your opinion is or what your faith teaches marriage should be.
Ramos: But the question is would you attend a gay wedding?
Rubio: Yeah, if it’s somebody in my life that I love and care for, of course, I would. I’m not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they’ve made or I disagree with a decision they’ve made, or whatever it may be.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.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked the same question of declared candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and the not-yet-declared former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.). Their responses, particularly Santorum’s, made Rubio sound like a bleeding heart liberal. “I haven’t faced that circumstance,” Cruz said, after blaming focus on the question as a “gotcha game that the mainstream media plays.” Santorum told Hewitt, “No, I would not” attend a gay wedding of a loved one or someone he was close to because “[a]s a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them, uh, but I would not participate in that ceremony.”
Not being there for someone you say you love isn’t love, Senator. Santorum’s response reminded me of the painful story in The Post in January about the same-sex wedding of Kathryn Frazier and Tracy Curtis of Oklahoma and the friends and family who said they loved them but would not be there for them for a joyous moment in their lives.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, both looking at making a run for the Republican nomination, are more humane than Santorum and Cruz. They even outshine Rubio in their responses to the “would you attend” question.
“Even though my position on marriage is still that its defined as between a man and a woman, and I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been to a reception,” Walker told reporters while at a GOP summit in New Hampshire over the weekend. But Kasich will beat them all when he and his wife attend a same-sex wedding sometime this year. In an interview with CNN in South Carolina over the weekend, Kasich adopted the same tone as Rubio.
Kasich: I went home and I said to my wife, ‘my friend’s getting married. What do you think? You wanna go?’ She goes, ‘Oh, I’m absolutely going.’ I called him today and said, ‘Hey, just let me know what time it is.
CNN: So, what brought you to that decision, even though you are opposed to same-sex marriage?
Kasich: Just because you’re opposed to something doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your friends, other human beings. 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….It’s pretty simple. I care about him. He cares about me. He invited me to something. I’m going to go do it. It’s not that complicated.
With varying degrees of comfort, Kasich, Walker and Rubio reflect what’s happening in America today. More and more people know, work with or are related to someone gay or lesbian. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showed that 77 percent of those surveyed said they knew or worked with someone gay or lesbian. According to a USA Today-Suffolk University poll released today, 46 percent said “Yes,” when asked if they had a gay or lesbian family member or close friend who married someone of the same sex. I don’t know about you, but that’s a stunning and heartening result.
What’s not heartening, however, is how all of the Republican candidates and prospective candidates lag the nation in evolving on the issue of same-sex marriage. In the USA Today poll, 51 percent support marriage equality. In the NBC poll that support rises to 59 percent. And that majority support spans generations with 74 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds, 54 percent of 34- to-49-year-olds and 55 percent of those 50- to 64-year-olds saying they favor allowing same-sex couples to wed. The kicker is that Americans older than 65 years old are almost evenly split with 46 percent opposed to marriage equality and 45 percent in support.
Put all of these polling results together and you have a nation pretty much speaking with one favorable voice on same-sex marriage. If only all these presidential aspirants who say they are listening to and want to lead the American people saw fit to follow them on marriage equality.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj