Florida Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio – both potential presidential candidates – offered their reaction to their state’s recent decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after a federal district judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Earlier this week, Bush issued a statement that the New York Times called “conciliatory.”
“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Bush said in the statement. “I hope that we can also show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”
Bush also told The Miami Herald that same-sex marriage should be a “state decision.”
In an interview with Politico, Rubio said that decisions about marriage should be left to the people, not the courts. Rubio said that the judge’s ruling is in sharp contrast to the will of Florida voters, 62 percent of whom voted to approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage six years ago.
“If they wanted to change that law, they should have gone to the legislature or back to the Constitution and try to change it,” said Rubio. “I don’t agree we should be trying to make those changes through the courts.”
Rubio said that regardless of his personal views about what constitutes marriage, there is a way to go about changing the definition in a constitutional fashion:
“While I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, while people want to change that law — and a lot of people apparently do – there is a way to do that. You go through the legislature, or you go on the ballot, but I don’t agree the courts have the power to do this.”
Ryan Anderson, the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation, said that all Americans – not just judges – should participate in the discussion about marriage:
“There are two central questions in this debate: What is marriage? And who gets to decide? The people and their elected representatives should deliberate and vote about marriage policy—not unelected judges—and they should make policy that serves the common good by reflecting the truth that marriage is the union of a man and woman.”
Reuters reports that after the Florida judge’s decision, 70 percent of Americans live in a state in which same-sex couples can marry.