NY vote pressures GOP to weigh in

Michele Bachmann

The news that New York State passed a marriage equality law last Friday night was big news and, not surprisingly, drew comments from various presidential candidates over the weekend.

President Obama, who made news the night before the New York vote by saying almost nothing in support of the marriage equality bill, said nothing following the bill’s passage either. But, Shin Inouye, a spokesman to the LGBT media for the White House, said, “The President has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples. That’s why he has called for repeal of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and determined that his Administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the courts. The states should determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens. The process in New York worked just as it should.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, trying hard to dodge questions about the viability of his campaign, seemed happy to offer extended remarks about the New York vote. During a bus tour in Iowa on Saturday, he sounded like a modern day Robert Bork.  Bork, in a book following his failed nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, warned that a rising liberalism was causing America to be “slouching towards Gomorrah.” Gingrich, reacting to New York, said it shows the country is “drifting toward a terrible muddle.” He called for the defense of DOMA and said he “would like to find ways to defend that view as legitimately and effectively as possible.”

But Gingrich is struggling to defend his prospects in the Republican presidential race. In the most recent poll –of 400 Republicans likely to participate in next year’s Iowa caucuses, surveyed June 19-21—Gingrich tied for fourth with Rep. Ron Paul, with only 7 percent of the vote each. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came in first, with 23 percent of the vote. He hasn’t yet said anything specifically about the New York marriage vote, but he has stated repeatedly in the past that he is against legalizing same-sex marriages and he took actions to oppose them while governor of Massachusetts.

Rep. Michele Bachmann landed a surprising second place finish in the Des Moines Register poll, with 22 percent—a virtual tie, given the poll’s plus-or-minus four points margin of error. Godfather Pizza founder Herman Cain came in third with 10 percent; former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty had six percent; former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum had four percent; and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman had two percent.

Bachmann’s strong showing in the poll and the fact that she was on weekend talk shows to promote her formal campaign entrance on Monday, June 27, ensured her views on the New York marriage vote got the most attention.

Bachman said two different things. She said the 10th Amendment protects New York’s right to pass a marriage equality law, and she said that, if elected president, she would push for an amendment to the federal constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman only. At a June 13 debate in New Hampshire, Bachmann had also said she would not, as president, attempt to overturn laws in states, like New Hampshire, that allow same-sex couples to marry.

But news anchor Chris Wallace, during Fox News Sunday, asked her the obvious question: “If you support states’ rights, why do you also support a constitutional amendment which would prevent any state from recognizing same-sex marriage?”

“That’s entirely consistent,” said Bachmann. “The states, under the 10th amendment, have the right to pass any law they like.” And federal legislators, she said, have the right to submit amendments to the federal constitution. She droned on a bit about how she’d prefer the issue be decided through ballot measures but how it will almost certainly end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and she’s against “activist” judges. She also echoed a little of Republican rival Rick Santorum’s “consistency” position on same-sex marriage, (Santorum says all state marriage laws should be consistent and ban same-sex marriage).

“Ultimately, with states having various laws,” said Bachmann, “the federal government would most likely weigh in.”

“So, just briefly,” said Wallace, after a minute or two, “you would support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the New York State law?”

Bachmann glanced away and then responded, “Yes, I would. I would. That is not inconsistent.”

The Republican field is generally consistent on the issue of same-sex marriage: Most are against. The exceptions are newly announced candidate Jon Huntsman, a former governor of Utah; and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Huntsman has indicated he supports civil unions. Paul supports DOMA but says he would not support a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Openly gay candidate Fred Karger is the lone supporter of same-sex marriage; but his name is repeatedly left off most polls and he has been shut out of the first two Republican debates.

5 Responses to NY vote pressures GOP to weigh in

  1. Joel says:

    The DOMA law was legally passed and is federal law. Obama telling the DOJ not to defend the law is in fact a violation of federal law. They are legally bound to uphold and defend the law as it is regardless of if the president likes the law or not.

  2. Tom Davis says:

    You fail to mention Ron Paul wins CNN debate poll, Washington post poll, and has won the most straw polls. Keep saying Mitt is the front runner enough some people will believe you. The others will see you as part of the main stream media lobbyist tool.

  3. Francoise says:

    If Obama actually believes in equal rights then he should have the decency to not insult our intelligence with the Ronald Reagan “state’s rights” rubbish. The only thing more tiresome than hearing it is an LGBT ‘leadership’ that lets him get away with such pettifoggery. Mr. President: Just say ‘No!’ to Gay Jim Crow.

  4. Russ in NYC says:

    The candidates speak the “Party Line” not necessarily their constituents views. Granted demographics vary … overall this is not a tipping point issue. Only a scare tactic backed up with vapid baseless theory.

    On the issue of Same Sex Marriage it is just that simple. It is a Civil matter not a religious matter.

  5. Joseph says:

    “The DOMA law was legally passed and is federal law.”

    It doesn’t matter how it was passed; a court declared it unconstitutional.

    ” Obama telling the DOJ not to defend the law is in fact a violation of federal law.”

    No, it’s not a violation of federal law. A court declared the law unconstitutional and the President agrees with this and he’s not the first president to take such an action after a court result. Please cite this phantom federal law you’re referring to.

    ” They are legally bound to uphold and defend the law as it is regardless of if the president likes the law or not.”

    You do understand what we’re talking about, don’t you? A portion of the law was declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It is still in effect pending appeal. If a President attempted to uphold a law that was declared unconstitutional, THAT would be the crime. How is the Obama justice department supposed to challenge a court decision IT AGREES WITH?

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