Businessman and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump locked himself into a painfully awkward conversation about marriage equality this weekend, when CNN called him out for citing the idea of “traditional marriage” while attempting to decry the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide — this, from a man in his third marriage.
While speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Trump was asked to respond to the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in all 50 states. When Trump invoked the conservative conception of marriage, Tapper pushed back.
Tapper: You said a few years ago that you were evolving. Where are you?
Trump: Yeah, I’m for traditional marriage. It is changing rapidly —
Tapper: But what do you say to a lesbian who is married or a gay man who is married who says, “Donald Trump, what’s traditional about being married three times?”
Trump: Well, they have a very good point. You know, I’ve been a very hardworking person. I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now, and actually my two [other] wives were very good …
Trump went on to explain his divorces, but Tapper interrupted him with another direct question:
Tapper: But what do you say to a lesbian or a gay man who are married…
Trump: I really don’t say anything. I just…I’m for traditional marriage.
The uncomfortable exchange exposes an oft-cited hypocrisy common among many conservative opponents of marriage equality: Republicans, including those who have been divorced several times, often say they ascribe to the supposedly biblical concept of “traditional marriage,” even though the Bible explicitly condemns divorce. Trump, who reportedly collects Bibles, did not mention Jesus Christ’s position on the matter, which is probably because Jesus never actually discussed homosexuality in any of the gospel stories. Christ did, however, discuss divorce, telling his followers in Matthew 19: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Of course, Christian denominations long ago developed theologies that allow for divorce, and the issue is largely settled in many traditions. But while Trump and others like him are clearly willing to accept this theological shift, they appear reticent to embrace the increasingly pro-LGBT theology of their own traditions. Trump, like fellow Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, is Presbyterian, and grew up attending a church affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Yet the PC(USA) already ordains openly LGBT pastors, and officially voted to embrace marriage equality earlier this year.
In fact, the PC(USA) issued an formal statement on Friday celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision, with the denomination’s Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons saying, “The PC(USA) has advocated for almost four decades for civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is in keeping with that work.”