Obama's position on constitutional marriage amendments is "well-known and he's long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples," said Jay Carney, his press secretary.
Carney, though, would not say whether Obama agreed with a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Prop 8, which passed in 2008 and defines marriage as between one man and one woman. As a candidate in 2008, Obama opposed Prop 8 while also publicly opposing gay "marriage" -- a position that many, including his own supporters, saw as inconsistent.
A reporter tried to pin down Obama's position.
"So isn't it inconsistent for the President to be -- not support same-sex marriage and also to be against such measures?" the reporter asked.
"Well," Carney responded, "I don't have any update for you on that particular issue with regards to the President's views. I can tell you that divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples are something that this President has long opposed."
Three of the four Republican candidates -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich -- released statements opposing the court's decision. Following are their statements:
-- Mitt Romney: "Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices."
-- Rick Santorum: "Today's decision by the 9th Circuit is another in a long line of radical activist rulings by this rogue circuit -- and it is precisely why I have called for that circuit to be abolished and split up. Marriage is defined and has always been defined as 'one man and one woman.' We simply cannot allow 50 different definitions of marriage. The people of California spoke clearly at the ballot box that they wanted marriage defined in the traditional manner of one man and one woman. And for a court, any court, to usurp the power and will of the people in this manner on an issue this fundamental to the foundation of our society is wrong. We need to have a Judicial Branch that acts within its Constitutional bounds. We need to have a President that is willing to stand up to the Judiciary. We need to have a President who will fight to protect marriage once and for all with a federal marriage amendment. I am committed to being that President."
-- Newt Gingrich: "With today's decision on marriage by the Ninth Circuit, and the likely appeal to the Supreme Court, more and more Americans are being exposed to the radical overreach of federal judges and their continued assault on the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States. I was drawn back into public life by the Ninth Circuit's 2002 decision that held that the words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional. Today's decision is one more example that the American people cannot rest until we restore the proper rule of the judicial branch and bring judges and the Courts back under the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States begins with 'We the People'; it does not begin with 'We the Judges.' Federal judges need to take heed of that fact. Federal judges are substituting their own political views for the constitutional right of the people to make judgments about the definition of marriage. The country has been here before. In 1856, the Supreme Court thought it could settle the issue of slavery once and for all and impose a judicial solution on the country. In 1973, the issue was abortion and once again a Supreme Court thought that it could impose a judicial solution on the country once and for all. Judicial solutions don't solve contentious social issues once and for all. Should the Supreme Court fail to heed the disastrous lessons of its own history and attempt to impose its will on the marriage debate in this country by affirming today's Ninth Circuit decision, it will bear the burden of igniting a constitutional crisis of the first order. The political branches of the federal government, as well as the political branches of the several States, will surely not passively accept the dictates of the federal judiciary on this issue. An interventionist approach by the Court on marriage will lead to a crisis of legitimacy for the federal judiciary from which it may take generations to recover."
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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