(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Jeb Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, called for "respect" of same-sex marriages on Monday as his home state of Florida began allowing gays to wed following a court ruling.

Bush, a former governor of Florida, said in a statement that even those like him who oppose same-sex marriage must "respect the rule of law" now that the state's ban on gay marriages has been ruled unconstitutional.

By acknowledging legalized gay marriage in Florida -- though stopping short of outright supporting it -- Bush has struck a more conciliatory tone than many of the other Republicans eyeing presidential runs in 2016.

Bush's statement was first reported by The New York Times and shared with The Washington Post by a spokeswoman. It reads in full:

"We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.   I hope that we can also show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."

Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, responded to Bush’s move by highlighting the former governor's continued opposition to same-sex marriages.

“It took Jeb Bush 69 words to say absolutely nothing – 69 words not to say, ‘I support marriage equality,’” Elleithee said in a statement. “Nothing’s changed. At the end of Bush’s statement, he still had the same position: he opposes the right of gay and lesbian Floridians – and all LGBT Americans – to get married and adopt children.”