The “gotcha” question for presidential candidates was once about military service or marijuana use — now, as MSNBC blogger Steve Benen notes, it's about attending a same-sex wedding, and some Republican hopefuls are walking a fine line between supporting friends and endorsing the party's anti-marriage equality stance.
Last night MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “Would you attend a gay wedding?”
Stumbling uncharacteristically, the not-yet-officially announced White House hopeful told Hunt, “That’s certainly a personal issue. For a family member, Tonette and I and our family have already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been at a wedding.”
Walker quickly reassured his base his beliefs haven’t changed. “That’s true even though my position on marriage is still that it’s defined between a man and a woman,” he said, “and I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception.”
Walker reportedly attended a reception for his wife’s cousin, Shelli Marquardt, shortly after a federal judge ruled Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional last year. Although an appeal briefly halted weddings, they resumed late last year when the Supreme Court rejected that appeal.
But Walker’s stance is not shared by other conservative candidates. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told a radio talk show host last week that attending a gay wedding “would be a violation of my faith.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, who earlier this year confirmed he is once again planning to introduce a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage nationwide, dodged the question by claiming it hasn’t been an issue for him personally: “I haven’t faced that circumstance. I have not had a loved one go to a, have a gay wedding.”
Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told a reporter he would attend a same-sex wedding.
“If there’s somebody that I love that’s in my life, I don’t necessarily have to agree with their decisions or the decisions they’ve made to continue to love them and participate in important events,” Rubio said on the Fusion cable network.
And in a taped interview broadcast Sunday, Rubio revealed he believes sexual orientation is not “a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people,” but he still doesn't want courts deciding on marriage for same-sex couples.
“I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with,” he told Bob Schieffer on CBS's Face the Nation.
But he stands by his political opposition to marriage equality. Rubio said he believes marriage should be “between one man and one woman,” yet insisted “it's not that I'm against gay marriage.”
“States have always regulated marriage, and if a state wants to have a different definition, you should petition the state legislature and have a political debate,” he said. “I don't think courts should be making that decision, and I don't believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.”
Watch Rubio talk about marriage equality as well as climate change below: