During a town hall at Michigan State University Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich got a question from a gay student about the so-called moderate Republican candidate’s willingness to respect marriage equality as the law of the land.
The student addressed himself as a “staunch Democrat” who had been facing “discrimination daily and weekly,” reports NBC News. He asked Kasich to share his game plan on LGBT issues.
Kasich is often portrayed as the most LGBT-friendly candidate in a GOP field crowded with right-wingers eager to roll back recent progress for LGBT Americans. Nevertheless, he previously stated his opposition to marriage equality, and defended his state’s ban on same-sex marriage all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was overturned in last June’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which brought marriage equality to all 50 states.
But unlike his Republican rivals, who have vowed to work to overturn that decision, Kasich has said he accepts the Supreme Court’s ruling as a matter of settled law.
But the student wanted to know how a President Kasich would handle nationwide marriage equality, and if he would oppose discrimination against LGBT people and enshrine such protections in the law.
“If I see discrimination in anything, like I said earlier, I’m willing to do what I can,” Kasich said. “Whether it’s executive order or legislation. That’s fine with me. As for marriage equality — let me be clear I'm for traditional marriage but I've been to my first gay wedding. A friend of mine is gay and got married. … And I went. And I had a great time. And there was great champagne."
Kasich has used a similar answer before in an apparent effort to showcase his tolerance toward the LGBT community. But this answer didn’t satisfy the student.
“I don't think that's enough for you to say you've been to a gay wedding,” the student shot back, according to NBC News.
“Well, we're not changing any laws," Kasich replied. "We're not changing. We're not going to allow discrimination on this."
The student pressed on, asking "So the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality, does that mean you would go out of your way to protect that right?"
That’s when Kasich ended the conversation. “The court has spoken,” he said firmly. “That’s the end of it.”
After placing second in the New Hampshire Republican primary, Kasich opted to take his campaign to Michigan, while the rest of the remaining GOP candidates continued on to South Carolina.
Kasich has previously told reporters that Michigan would “play a very, very important role" in fulfilling his presidential aspirations. In preparation for that state’s primary on March 8, he concluded a two-day tour of Michigan in East Lansing Tuesday.