Anyone who hoped Texas Senator Ted Cruz might soften his antigay rhetoric as he seeks the Republican Party's nomination for president in 2016 was given a harsh reality check at the candidate's first campaign stop since announcing his bid for the White House, reports the Dallas Morning News.
At a publicity stop in Sioux City, Iowa, Cruz told a Methodist college crowd that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality would be "rampant judicial activism. It will be lawlessness, it will be fundamentally illegitimate."
Cruz dismissed the nationwide backlash over Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which LGBT activists and business leaders around the country said amounted to a "license to discriminate," as part of "the radical gay marriage agenda."
"Because of [progressive activists'] partisan desire to mandate gay marriage everywhere in this country, they also want to persecute anyone who has a good faith religious belief that marriage is a holy sacrament, the union of one man and one woman and ordained as a covenant by God," Cruz told the gathering of 150 onlookers, who broke into applause.
Cruz plans to deliver more speeches around Iowa on Thursday, according to the Morning News. The Iowa caucuses -- a competitive testing ground for GOP candidates wanting to win their party's nomination -- are still about nine months away.
At his first publicity stop since announcing his candidacy at right-wing Liberty University last month, Cruz also repeated his support for a federal constitutional ban on marriage equality. This is an idea that surfaced briefly, about a decade ago, and garnered little interest. With the surge in public support for equality since then, it's virtually impossible that such an amendment would gain any traction -- but that hasn't stopped Cruz from repeatedly raising his voice in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Cruz also suggested that he might use his congressional authority to supercede the ability of federal courts to hear marriage-related cases. This appears to be a reference to a practice known as "jurisdiction stripping," which is so seldom successful that it's only occurred once, during Reconstruction in the 1800s.
Watch Cruz's comments in the video below, via Dallas Morning News.