During today’s RNC debate, all four candidates vying to replace current RNC Chairman Michael Steele reiterated their opposition to expanding marriage rights to gay and lesbian people, insisting that marriage can only be defined as a union between one man and one woman. The frontrunners for the position — Steele and Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus — also walked a tight rope of sorts, arguing that while marriage formed the foundation of American society, culture and history, excluding gay people from that all-important institution did not deny “dignity” to the LGBT community:
– MICHAEL STEELE: “It’s foundational to who we are as a nation, how we define ourselves as people…not to the exclusion of others, not to diminish anyone’s individuality, but to say in a very supportive way that the family unit, the family concept, is an ideal that we aspire to.”
– REINCE PRIEBUS: “It’s foundational in our lives… I don’t believe anybody should be denied dignity in this discussion, everyone should be loved. But at the end of the day, I believe that marriage — through the sanctity of marriage — should be between one man and one woman.”
– ANN WAGNER: “It is the true fabric of our society.”
– SAUL ANUZIS: “I think very straight forwardly, marriage is both a religious and a cultural institution that has existed for over 2,000 years…I think that our both belief in our kind of activity to promote marriage and promote the nuclear family is an important distinction that we have in America versus almost every other country in the world.”
– MARIA CINO: “I believe in traditional family.”
Public support for marriage equality is growing, however, despite the Republican party’s strong stance on the issue. Five states and the District of Columbia have expanded marriage to gay people and support for marriage has exceeded the 50 percent mark in at least 17 states. An AP-National Constitution Center Poll from September also found that 52% of Americans believe that the federal government should “give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex.”
As Vice President Joe Biden said late last month, “the country is evolving.” “I think there’s an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage,” he predicted. President Obama, however, still has not said that he supports same-sex marriages.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.