Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Scott Walker led numerous conservative voices Friday in calling attention to the need to protect religious liberty and state's rights in reaction to the Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry
anywhere in the United States.
"Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," Jeb Bush
said in a statement on his website.
"I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.
"It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."
Here's more reaction by leading figures — including many 2016 presidential hopefuls — from both political parties:
Dr. Ben Carson
responded to the Supreme Court's divisive 5-4 ruling in favor of gay marriage by calling on Congress to protect and respect "deeply held religious views."
"While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land," said Carson, a GOP candidate. "The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.
"I support same-sex civil unions," Carson said. "But to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker,
who is widely expected to announced his candidacy next month, went further — calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the landmark ruling.
"As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage,” said Walker, the first likely or actual GOP presidential candidate to seek a reversal on the ruling.
"I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs."
The ruling, said Walker, is a "grave mistake," and the power to define marriage should rest with the states, not the federal government.
Fourteen Midwestern and Southern states — including Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas — have bans on same-sex marriage that are now, effectively, illegal.
Sen. Marco Rubio
of Florida, a GOP presidential candidate, called on Americans to respect the court's decision, but also to elect a president in 2016 who will appoint judges who uphold the Constitution.
"While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.
"The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion."
, a former governor of Arkansas and a GOP presidential hopeful, called the Supreme Court a "divided" and "imperial" body.
"The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.
"We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat" from it, Huckabee said.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
also said the ruling raises the bigger issue of religious liberty.
"The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states' rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution," said Jindal, who is also a GOP presidential candidate.
"Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.
"This decision will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty."
Sen. Lindsey Graham
of South Carolina, also running for the GOP nomination, said he was a "proud defender of traditional marriage" but disagreed Walker and others in his party who wanted to reverse the Supreme Court decision through a constitutional amendment.
"Given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue," Graham said, "I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress."
He continued in his statement, "Rather than pursuing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans."
, chairman of the Republican National Committee, faulted the court for injecting the federal government into what that has traditionally been the domain of states and individuals.
"The Supreme Court failed to recognize the states' constitutional role in setting marriage policy, instead finding a federal role where there is none.
"In doing so," Priebus said, "they have taken power away from the states and from the people to settle the relevant issues for themselves. ...We should respect the sincerely held religious views of our fellow citizens, just as we respect those on the winning side of this case."
Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli
denounced the decision as "another tragic case of judicial activism" and called on Congress to defend state's rights.
"Unelected and unaccountable justices should not rewrite the Constitution as the Court did today," Cuccinelli, a former attorney general from Virginia, said in a statement. "Issues not addressed in our founding document should explicitly be left up to the states and
the people, as has been the case for marriage for over 200 years, including the Supreme Court's own previous 9-0 ruling that marriage is exclusively a state matter."
He called on Congress to "take immediate action to defend the Constitution by passing a constitutional amendment that explicitly protects the right of states to define marriage."
And he warned, "for those who thought this was the end-goal of the other side, watch closely as their tyranny unfolds over the next several years, as they use this ruling as a weapon to attack religious liberty and the freedom of conscience."
House Speaker John Boehner
, meanwhile, said that while he believes "all human beings are created equal by God and thus deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect," he is " disappointed that the Supreme Court disregarded the democratically-enacted will of millions of Americans by forcing states to redefine the institution of marriage."
Boehner represents Ohio, and said his own views are based "on my upbringing and my faith."
"I believe that marriage is a sacred vow between one man and one woman, and I believe Americans should be able to live and work according to their beliefs," he said.
, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the decision: "will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion ... Today’s decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench.
"We will not capitulate on this issue, because we cannot.”
Sen. Ron Portman
of Ohio, the first GOP senator to say he supported same-sex marriage after his son, Will, told him he was gay, greeted the decision.
"As a father, I welcome today’s decision. Now the court has reached its decision, I hope we can move past the division and polarization the issue has caused."
But Rick Santorum
, also a GOP presidential candidate, called Friday's ruling another wrongful decision by "unaccountable justices" that must be addressed by elected leaders.
"Today, five unelected judges decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. The court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record.
"The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices. But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country — they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path," Santorum said.
"Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best."
And Carly Fiorina
, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and GOP presidential hopeful, denounced "the activist court" for redefining marriage on her Facebook page.
"This is only the latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is and not what the law should be," Fiorina wrote. "The Court ruled today that all Americans should receive equal benefits and rights from the government under the law. I have always supported this view.
"However, this decision was also about the definition of marriage itself. I do not agree that the Court can or should redefine marriage. I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country."
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry
, also a presidential hopeful, joined those speaking up for state's rights.
"I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment," he said.
"Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict constitutional conservatives who will
apply the law as written."
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