The GOP's Public-Private Divide on Marriage Equality

Gay journalist Thomas Roberts says Republican leaders privately congratulated him on his marriage, while beating the drums against marriage equality in public.

BY Trudy Ring

August 16 2013 3:28 PM ET

Thomas Roberts

Politicians who publicly oppose marriage equality are sometimes happy to congratulate wedded gay couples in private — a phenomenon journalist Thomas Roberts has observed firsthand.

“Reince Priebus, when I got engaged, congratulated me at the White House correspondents weekend,” Roberts, who married his partner last year, said today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, referring to the head of the Republican National Committee. Also, Sean Spicer, the RNC communications director, “congratulated me on getting married to my husband,” Roberts added. “It’s odd because then they’ll go out and drumbeat against marriage equality.”

Host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, called out party leaders as hypocrites. “Since 2006,” he said, “Republican leaders have said one thing in green rooms, another thing on TV, and another thing on talk radio.” He said top Republicans lack “the guts to stare down the crazies in their own party” and that Mitt Romney, last year’s GOP presidential nominee, “never had the guts to speak out against the most extreme elements in his party and he lost, in part because he followed extremists down a rabbit hole.” Scarborough said the party is also insensitive to racial minorities and sends a message that ”if you’re not white, you’re really not welcome in this party.”

Spicer issued a brief statement after the show, saying, “Believing marriage is between one man and one woman and being polite, courteous, and respectful are not mutually exclusive.”

Watch video from today’s program below.

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