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GOP Candidates Vie to Be Most Antigay at Rightwing Event

GOP Candidates Vie to Be Most Antigay at Rightwing Event

The current crop of Republican candidates for president, including those who haven't formally announced they're running, tried to prove their antigay mettle at Friday's Faith and Freedom Coalition's conference in Washington, D.C., a gathering of some of the nation's most powerful evangelicals.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was all fire and brimstone, promising to fight the Supreme Court if it decides this month to legalize national marriage equality.

"It’s got to be important over the long haul, irrespective of what the courts say," Bush said of battling marriage equality, according to The New Civil Rights Movement.

Bush also defended so-called "religious freedom" bills like the ones passed in Indiana and pushed through in Louisiana. 

"We need to make sure that we protect the right not just of having religious views, but the right of acting on those religious views," Bush said. "Conscience should also be respected for people of faith who want to take a stand for traditional marriage."

Even with all his pandering, Bush failed to create major buzz with the hyper-conservative audience, according to Politico. Former Pennsylvania senator and virulent homophobe Rick Santorum did much worse, the site reported, and Florida senator Marco Rubio also bombed.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz may have won over the crowd the most, with his strident call for evangelicals to rise up and "turn the country around" in 2016. Cruz said marriage equality nationwide would lead to the "persecution of Christian churches and schools." Regarding the "religious freedom" bills, Cruz said, “Every one of us, our hearts broke a couple months ago in Indiana and Arkansas... more than a few Republicans running for president in 2016 chose that moment somehow to go and rearrange their sock drawer.” 

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who is supposed to announce his candidacy this week, also came out ahead. Jindal vigorously defended "religious freedom" bills, saying big business made an "unnatural alliance" with liberals. Jindal is currently at war with IBM, which built new offices in Baton Rouge and urged him to veto a proposed "religious freedom" bill in the state. The legislation died, but the governor signed an executive order that provided the same loopholes to antigay discrimination the bill would have.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina also received high marks for their performances.

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