In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act that outlaws same-sex marriages at the federal level, even when those marriages are legal in one or more states. The decision received widespread approval among American citizens at the time, with many citing morality and religion as the primary consideration behind their decision. Fast forward almost 15 years later, and a completely different picture emerges.
Most Americans have favored same-sex marriage since mid-2010. A May 6 Gallup poll reveals that 50% of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriages as opposed to 48% who opposes it. Over the last 12 years, 21 states covering 130 million Americans chose some form of marriage equality: 10 have same-sex marriage (CA, CT, DC, IA, MA, MD, NH, NY, VT, WA), 5 have civil union (DE, HI, IL, NJ, RI), and 6 have domestic partnership (CO, ME, NV, NM, OR, WI). In 2012, legislators, courts, and/or citizens will vote whether to add - or ban - same-sex marriage in 18 states (CA, CO, HI, IA, IL, MA, ME, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NH, NM, OH, RI, WA, WV).
This is one of the hot-button issues of the election, so let's hear what the candidates have to say on the matter.
With contributions from Mr. Ned Flaherty
2012 Republican Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of Massachusetts
Romney’s position on the issue of LGBT has undergone an evolution over the course of his 18-year political career, reflecting his personal struggle over the issue – although, for the record, he insists that his stance has always been the same, and cites the changing definition of the term ‘gay rights’ as the source of the misconception.
He was supportive of the LGBT movement’s cause early in his political career, especially during his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat in 1994. Following a meeting with the local chapter of the Log Cabin Club, which is the only pro-LGBT Republican organization of note in the country, Romney wrote to the club members’ to reaffirm his commitment to their cause ( original letter ).
“I am pleased to have had an opportunity to talk with you and to meet many of you personally during your September meeting. I learned a great deal from those discussions and many thoughtful questions you posed. As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.
I am not unaware of my opponents considerable record in the area of civil rights, or the commitment of Massachusetts voters to the principle of equality for all Americans. For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent's record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”
In an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight last year, Romney outlined his views on the subject, making a clear distinction between his faith and politics.
Morgan : What is the gay right that you’re in favor of?
Romney : Equal rights in employment, equal rights in, I mean, for instance, as the Governor, I had members of my team that were gay. I appointed a couple of judges who apparently I find out were gay. Look, I didn’t ask people their sexual orientation
Morgan : Does your faith mean that you view homosexuality as a sin?
Romney : I separate quite distinctly matters of personal faith from the leadership that one has in a political sense.
Morgan : Can you do that?
Romney : Absolutely.
Morgan : Seriously?
Romney : You don’t begin to apply the doctrine of religion to responsibility for guiding a nation or guiding a state.
Morgan : But what is the Mormon position on homosexuality being a sin?
Romney : You know, that’s something you can take up with the church. I’m not a spokesman for my church. I’m not a spokesman for my church, and one thing I’m not gonna do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church, or apply a religious test which simply is forbidden by the constitution. I’m not going there.
June 7, 2011: Romney on Piers Morgan Tonight
Romney on Marriage
I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I disagree with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution to make that expressly clear. Of course, basic civil rights, and certain appropriate benefits should be available to people in non-traditional relationships. But marriage is a special institution between a man and a woman, and our Constitution and laws should reflect that.
November 18, 2003: Romney’s statement as Governor of Massachusetts, reacting to the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is protected in the Massachusetts Constitution.
Romney on Civil Unions<
From day one I've opposed the move for same-sex marriage and its equivalent, civil unions
February 21, 2005: Speaking at a Republican rally in South Carolina Republicans
Chris Matthews: Do you think there's any difference, really, between a gay marriage and something called a civil union? Mitt Romney: Well, I would rather have neither, to tell you the truth. I'd rather that domestic partner benefits, such as hospital - hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples. I don't want civil unions or gay marriage. But there is a difference, even when just the word is the difference.And the difference is that, if you indicate as a society that you're indifferent between a same-sex couple marrying and a heterosexual couple marrying, then it means our schools and other institutions are going to have to indicate that there is no difference whatsoever, and that obviously has societal consequences that are important.
Question: How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military.
Romney on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
Question: How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military. Romney: That’s already occurred and I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage. < Question: But you’re comfortable with it? Romney: I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, by virtue of the complicating the features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down and moving to that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem.
November 9, 2011: Romney meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.
Romney on ‘Defense of Marriage Act’
The actions that I take as president depends on part on the state of play in Washington, the people that are there and what options exists - but certainly I would defend the Defense of Marriage Act which the current president has refused to defend. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act was well constructed and should be maintained.
November 9, 2011: Romney meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.
Ryan believes that marriage is fundamentally between a man and a woman, and favors a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages.
He is opposed to workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, and broke ranks with a majority of House Republicans to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (H.R.2015), a bill which prohibits employment discrimination, preferential treatment or quotas, on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by employers, employment agencies or labor organizations.
However, in 2009, Ryan voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S.909), a legislation aimed at expanding hate crimes definition to include crimes motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
Ryan opposes same sex marriages and supports a constitutional amendment banning it. He argues that marriage is not merely a legal arrangement between individuals and is an integral component of the society, and thus, should not be simply reduced to eligibility for benefits. Ryan voted in favor of the ultimately defeated Federal Marriage Amendment twice, in 2004 and 2006.
♦“Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted in favor of H.R. 3313, legislation that prevents unelected, lifetime-appointed federal judges from ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (current law) that provides that no state shall be required to accept same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states. This legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 233-194.
The legislation provides that federal courts cannot strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and take away from the states the option Congress gave them to reject same-sex marriage licenses issued in another state if they want to. Nothing in this bill denies anyone the right to bring any claim they could otherwise bring. H.R. 3313 simply provides that cases involving the section of DOMA that protects states’ rights must be brought in state courts.
“I believe fundamentally that marriage is between a man and a woman. Although I support the constitutional amendment to protect marriage, that process cannot continue at this time given the failed attempt by the U.S. Senate to advance the amendment. Meanwhile, states could be forced to accept same-sex marriages because of a few judges in Massachusetts. This legislation protects each state’s right to protect marriage,” Ryan said.
“This legislation upholds states’ rights under current law, preventing federal judges from unilaterally overturning that law which could force states to accept same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states. Too frequently, federal judges wind up making law from the bench through their rulings. That’s not the proper role for them, and I’m glad the House has stepped forward to defend states’ rights,” Ryan said.
Through today’s vote, the House of Representatives upheld its responsibility to act as a check on federal judges that overstep their bounds.”
July 22, 2004: House Votes to Protect Marriage and States’ Rights, Prevent Power Play by Federal Judges, Press Release from the Office of Paul Ryan
♦“Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted in favor of a Constitutional amendment maintaining that marriage in the United States consists solely of the union of a man and a woman. A majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the amendment (227-186), although it did not achieve the necessary 2/3 vote required under the amendment process.
“I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and I have heard from many of the people I represent who are concerned about activist judges abusing their power and rewriting our society’s definition of marriage,” Ryan said. “I had hoped that this amendment wouldn’t be necessary, but increasingly it appears that laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act will not be sufficient to protect marriage from certain courts that distort state and federal constitutional law.”
“Marriage is not simply a legal arrangement between individuals. The institution of marriage is an integral part of our civil society and its significance goes well beyond eligibility for benefits and similar considerations. Its future should not be left to a few overreaching judges or local officials to decide,” Ryan said. “That’s why I support this effort to amend our Constitution to protect marriage.”
In addition to clearly defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the federal marriage amendment would leave the matter of the creation of civil unions, domestic partnerships and other nonmarital arrangements to the state legislatures to determine.
In order to become part of the U.S. Constitution, this amendment must gain approval through one of the following two routes:
Both houses of Congress pass an amendment by a two-thirds majority. Once the amendment has passed both houses, it must be passed by three-fourths of the states’ legislatures. A Constitutional Convention can be called by two-thirds of the states’ legislatures to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions. So far, this method has not been used to pass a Constitutional amendment.”
September 30, 2004: Ryan Votes for Marriage Protection Amendment, Press Release from the Office of Paul Ryan Ryan on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
Ryan voted against repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (H.R. 2965) in 2010. H.R.2965 was designed to provide for the repeal of the Department of Defense (DOD) policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Ryan on Adoptions
In 1999, Ryan voted in favor of H.R.2587 (District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2000), which sought to prevent same-sex couples from receiving federal incentives of $5,000 for adoption of children in the District of Columbia.
♦ FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR INCENTIVES FOR ADOPTION OF CHILDREN For a Federal payment to the District of Columbia to create incentives to promote the adoption of children in the District of Columbia foster care system, $5,000,000: Provided, That such funds shall remain available until September 30, 2001 and shall be used in accordance with a program established by the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia and approved by the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate:
♦ SEC. 131: None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (D.C. Law 9–114; D.C. Code, sec. 36–1401 et seq.) or to otherwise implement or enforce any system of registration of unmarried, cohabiting couples (whether homosexual, heterosexual, or lesbian), including but not limited to registration for the purpose of extending employment, health, or governmental benefits to such couples on the same basis that such benefits are extended to legally married couples.
Paul believes that voluntary association between individuals is a given in a free society, and feels that no one should impose their values on one another. He is opposed to any Constitutional amendment to either deny or enhance the rights of the LGBT community.
Paul On LGBT
“All rights are individuals. We do not get our rights because we belong to a group, whether it's homosexual, women, minorities - it leads us astray. So it's much more important to understand that all individuals have the right to their life, if they do no harm you don't try to do a whole lot about it. If you want to change people, you change them through persuasion, through family values and church values. But you can't do it through legislation because force doesn't work... A group can't force themselves on anybody else. So there should be no affirmative action for any group, so if a homosexual group wanted to enforce their way on us, there's no right to do that either.”
Sep 17, 2007: Values Voter Presidential Debate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Paul on Marriage and Civil Unions
Paul has indicated before that he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, but stressed that the matter should be left to the states.
Question: How would your faith shape the way you approach social issues, such as same-sex marriage? Paul: Biblically and historically, the government was very uninvolved in marriage. I like that. I don't know why we should register our marriage to the federal government. I think it's a sacrament. I think it should be biblical, and politically I don't like to fight with people who disagree with me, as long as they don't force their views on me. So for that reason, I think the real solution to some of this argument is to have less government, rather than government dictating and forcing understanding on different people. I don't think much can be achieved. As I mentioned in my talk, Christ doesn't come and beg and plead for more laws. He pleads for more morality, and I think that's very important.
October 10, 2011: Interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Christianity Today, Washington, D.C.
Carl Cameron: Congressman Paul to you, on the subject of the core debates in the party over social issues, gay marriage. You've been quoted as saying any association that's voluntary should be permissible in a free society and you've expressed your opposition to a Constitutional ban on the gay marriage. Many of your rivals on stage disagree. Why are they wrong? Paul: I'm afraid I haven't been able to get most of your question. I know you brought the subject of gay marriage, but I didn't get the point of what you're saying. I can't hear it that well. Carl Cameron: Why are those on the stage who support a constitutional amendment (muffled) gay marriage wrong? Paul: Oh okay. Well, if you believe in Federalism, it's better that we allow these things to be left in the state. My personal belief is that, that marriage is a religious ceremony and it should be dealt with religiously. The state really shouldn't be involved. The state, both federal and state wise, got involved (illegible) for health reasons a hundred years or so ago. But this should be a religious matter. All voluntary associations whether economic or social should be protected by the law. But to amend the Constitution is totally unnecessary. To define something that's already in the dictionary, we do know what marriage is all about. We don't need a new definition or argue over definition and have an amendment to the Constitution. To me it seems so unnecessary to do that. It's very simply that the states should be out of that business and the state, I mean, the states should be able to handle this. The federal government should be out of it. There's no need for the federal government to be involved in this. You can accomplish this without waiting five, or ten, or fifteen years, you can, go, the authority can be put in the states by mere voting in the Congress.
October 21, 2007: Fox News Republican Presidential Debate in Orlando, Florida
Paul on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
Scott Spradling: Congressman Paul, a question for you. Most of our closest allies, including Great Britain and Israel, allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. Is it time to end don't ask/don't tell policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military?
Paul: I think the current policy is a decent policy. And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their rights as belonging to groups. We don't get our rights because we're gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way.
So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there's heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. So it isn't the issue of homosexuality. It's the concept and the understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with this very important problem.
June 5, 2007: CNN Republican presidential debate
Note: On December 18, 2010, Paul voted in favor of repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
Paul on ‘Defense of Marriage Act’
Paul issued a statement in response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Obama Administration will stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) against legal actions.
“The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 to stop Big Government in Washington from re-defining marriage and forcing its definition on the States. Like the majority of Iowans, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and must be protected.
I supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which used Congress’ constitutional authority to define what other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a same sex marriage license issued in another state. I have also cosponsored the Marriage Protection Act, which would remove challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act from the jurisdiction of the federal courts.”
Paul Makes A Hollywood Cameo
Completely irrelevant to the issue, but we just had to put it somewhere on the site, and this seems to be as good a place as any.
In 2009, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen somehow managed to secure an interview with Congressman Paul while playing the part of Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion designer/reporter. A visibly upset Paul, clearly unaware that the ‘interview’ was a hoax, stormed out of the hotel room after ‘Bruno’ attempted to seduce him.
Bruno : I'm here with Congressman Ron Paul, who was the 2008 presidential candidate. So tell me, who are you wearing? Paul: Well, I don't even know because it's pretty conventional. And I'm pretty, in that sense, pretty ordinary. But the message is not ordinary.
(Sorry, Herr Bruno. We lost a light. Do you want to go relax in the other room while we fix it?)
Bruno : Sure. Bruno : Do you want some champagne? Paul: I don't care for any. No. Bruno : There's no ice bucket, but I know a good place to put it.< Bruno : Yeah, you were great in there. Have you done a lot of television before? Paul: Well, off and on throughout the years. This last year, a tremendous amount. Bruno : Sure. Paul: I do a lot of them. Bruno : Do you want some strawberries or maybe some oysters? Paul: No, I'm okay. Bruno : I'm gonna light some candles if it's okay. Really loosens you up.
Has anyone ever told you you look like Enrique Iglesias?
Of course not. You're much cuter.
I love music. And dancing. I used to be a dancer. Paul: All right! Get out of here! Bruno : What? Paul: All right, this has ended. Unidentified voice: What's going on? Paul: That guy is queerer than the blazes. He took his clothes off. Let's get going. Unidentified voice: What happened? Paul: He's queer. He's crazy. He put a hit on me. He took his clothes off. Bruno : I couldn't even schtupp RuPaul. How would I become weltfamous?
Snyder’s view on homosexuality: “A man who presumes to know God’s will and wisdom takes a huge risk in judging his fellow man. The laws of men cannot exempt each other from the laws of God. Lust is born in everyone—it flows in different strengths and in different directions. When that desire flows in a sinful direction, the strength of that desire tests the strength of our will. Likewise, the strength of the voices that flow in my direction test my will to uphold what I believe is right—and I pity those who would judge me standing strong.”
Snyder believes that SSM is a plea for acceptance, nothing more. Any legal benefits of marriage can be duplicated through contracts. He does not support SSM.