Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is the second GOP presidential contender to officially embrace same-sex marriage, making the announcement tonight during a town hall hosted by the pro-gay Republican group GOProud. From his statement:
As a believer in individual freedom and keeping government out of personal lives, I simply cannot find a legitimate justification for federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, which ‘define’ marriage. That definition should be left to religions and individuals – not government. Government’s role when it comes to marriage is one of granting benefits and rights to couples who choose to enter into a marriage ‘contract’. As I have examined this issue, consulted with folks on all sides, and viewed it through the lens of individual freedom and equal rights, it has become clear to me that denying those rights and benefits to gay couples is discrimination, plain and simple. [...]
Today, I believe we have arrived at a point in history where more and more Americans are viewing it as a question of liberty and freedom. That evolution is important, and the time has come for us to align our marriage laws with the notion that every individual should be treated equally.”
Johnson, known for his Libertarian leanings, had previously “advocates for ‘gay unions‘ as an extension of personal freedom.” Significantly, Johnson was also one of the first GOP candidates to condemn a debate audience’s booing of a gay soldier who asked a question about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
He strongly spoke out against a conservative group’s marriage fidelity pledge over the summer, chiding the document — prepared by the FAMiLY Leader — as “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded.”
Political operative Fred Karger is the only other GOP presidential contender to endorse same-sex marriage. He is also openly gay.