Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich’s answer to LGBT people turned away by businesses is “get over it,” while his advice for those business owners it to pray.
Kasich, the governor of Ohio, has said he wouldn’t have signed anti-LGBT laws like the ones recently enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi, but today on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash, he said that as president, he wouldn’t do anything to stop states from passing such legislation.
“There is a legitimate concern for people being able to have their deeply held religious beliefs, religious liberty,” he told Bash. “But there’s also people who we shouldn’t be discriminating against. … We need to strike a balance, and I just wish we’d take a breath and calm down and take a breath, because you see, trying to legislate that balance is complicated and you keep doing do-overs, because nobody gets it right.”
He continued, “What I would like to say is just relax, and if you don’t like what somebody’s doing, pray for them, and if you’re feeling like somebody is doing something wrong against you, can you just for a second get over it?”
He said he thinks the conflict between LGBT rights and religious liberty will eventually settle down. The law passed in Mississippi allows businesses, individuals, and nonprofits to refuse services to LGBT people and others who somehow offend their religious sensibilities. The North Carolina law does not address religion but prevents cities in the state from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws and also bars transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, if those facilities are located in government buildings.
In a Republican debate in February, Kasich had said it wasn’t good business or morally acceptable for business owners to discriminate against LGBT people or anyone else. In another debate a week later, he walked that back, saying serving an LGBT individual was one thing, but being asked to participate in a celebration that goes against one’s religious beliefs — providing goods or services for a same-sex couple’s wedding, for instance — was quite another. Couples denied such services shouldn’t sue, he said, but just find another business to handle their wedding needs.
In another example of Kasich’s hedging on LGBT issues, in an MSNBC town hall interview with Chris Matthews last week, he said, as he had before, that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was settled law and he wouldn’t seek to change it, even though he doesn’t agree with it.
He also mentioned, as he had previously, that he had attended a friend’s wedding to a same-sex partner, but he told Matthews, “I don’t think it’s right, and the wedding that I went to, they know that I don’t agree with them.” When Matthews asked him what same-sex couples who love each other should do, Kasich replied, “They should love one another. That’s the end of it.”
Kasich’s “get over it” comment today didn’t sit well with the Democratic National Committee. “John Kasich can’t have it both ways,” said DNC spokesman T.J. Helmstetter in a press release. “Either you’re for discrimination, or you’re against it. To tell LGBT victims of discrimination to ‘just relax’ and ‘get over it’ is disrespectful, outrageous, and not the kind of leadership expected from a credible presidential candidate. Kasich can continue trying to put a friendly face on his party’s discriminatory policies, but the fact remains that his own state remains a minefield for LGBT people, who can still be fired for being who they are. As governor, Kasich has done nothing to help end discrimination against LGBT employees, and he was the final obstacle preventing marriage equality in Ohio before the Supreme Court’s decision. [Donald] Trump and [Ted] Cruz may make a lot of people look reasonable by comparison, but Kasich is no ‘moderate.’ He’s certainly no friend to the LGBT community.”
Watch clips of Kasich’s exchanges with Bash and Matthews below.