Sen. Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, debated Wednesday, with Fiorina comparing her opposition to marriage equality to the position held by President Barack Obama.
In the video from Think Progress the candidates were asked whether they thought federal law should be changed to allow for equal rights for same-sex couples.
Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard CEO, defended Proposition 8 as the expression of voters’ will and said she supported civil unions.
“The Defense of Marriage Act had broad bipartisan support and the position that I have consistently espoused is consistent with that of our president and the vast majority of senators in the U.S. Senate," she said.
Senator Boxer disagreed, saying that it was a very “straightforward decision” to acknowledge that only marriage equality could achieve equal rights for same-sex couples.
The transcript of the marriage exchange:
Moderator: [Ms.] Fiorina, you supported and say that marriage should be only between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not recognized by the federal government. And this means that gay and lesbian couples are denied thousands of rights that heterosexual couples get, like benefits from Social Security. Should federal law be be changed to federal equal status? If not, why not?
Fiorina: I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But I also have been simple and clear: I support civil unions. Also, the position I have consistently espoused is consistent with that of our president and the vast majority of senators in the U.S. Senate. I think what we now are seeing on Proposition 8 is that the voters were quite clear about their views on this. And this is now going through a legal process. Whatever your views about gay marriage, I think many of us would conclude that when voters have such a clear decision, for that decision to be overturned by a single judge, seems perhaps not appropriate. And so this is now the beginning of what will be a long legal process. I support very much the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." And I know that the military is getting ready to release its report on the best way to execute that decision.
Moderator: Senator Boxer? Your reply?
Boxer: You know, we do have courts that check the legislature. And the legislature checks the president. That's what our Constitution says. So yes, a lot of our laws that pass may go through that test. You read [California supreme court chief justice] Ron George's decision on this — by the way, a Republican who was appointed to the state of California bench — he's clear. He says the only way to get equal rights to gays and lesbians is to say that there should be marriage equality. It's a very straightforward decision. Because, as you said, the only way to get the rights that married couples have, is to go for marriage equality. And I think — and I'm glad to say, I believe people are coming around to see it.