Republican 2016 hopefuls split on gay marriage

The Supreme Court’s decision affirming the right to gay marriage came on a 5-4 vote. (Read the full opinion here.)

In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy writes that “No union is more profound than marriage.” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas are the dissenters.

The decision in United States versus Windsor does not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, have said logic would compel them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

There’s division among several of the Republican candidates for president about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has condemned the decision by what he calls “five unelected justices” who make up the ruling’s 5-4 majority.

Santorum is a social conservative, and he says the court has redefined “the foundational unit that binds together our society, without public debate or input.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweets that the ruling is “irrational” and “threaten religious liberty” and Congress must act.

Another Republican hopeful, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, also takes issue with the court redefining marriage, as she sees it. But she doesn’t dispute the conclusion. She says she’s always believed “all Americans should have equal benefits and rights.”

Another rival, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, says he’ll “respect the court’s decision.”

He calls himself “a proud defender of traditional marriage.” But the senator says it’s futile to attempt a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was clearly prepared for the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Clinton fired off several tweets after the court issued its 5-4 decision, and her Facebook and Twitter profile pictures are now a rainbow version of her “H” campaign logo.

She says in one tweet, “Proud.”

Another message shows a graphic of the country with all states colored in gold, showing marriage equality is now the law. She adds, “Our new favorite map.”

In yet another Twitter message, she says “Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality — & the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible.”

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush is affirming what he calls a faith-guided belief in traditional marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. He’s also echoing his familiar theme that states should make such decisions.

But the former Florida governor breaks with some of his party’s social conservatives by saying: “I also believe we should love our neighbor and respect others including those making lifetime commitments.”

He adds, “In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.”

Bush is a converted Roman Catholic and he typically says he supports traditional marriage. But he notably does not condemn same-sex marriage in the same way as some of his 2016 rivals.

In New Hampshire last month, he told voters there are indeed some single-issue voters but not as many as people believe.

The leader of Democrats in the House calls the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage a “transformative” decision.

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi says the ruling “unequivocally affirmed that equal justice under the law means marriage equality” for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Americans.

She adds, “This decision is about creating a future where loving, committed families are able to live with dignity. This is about freedom. This is about love.”

In the Senate, New York’s Chuck Schumer is repeating the quote, “the arc of history is long and it bends in the direction of justice.”

Schumer says, “Thank you to five Supreme Court heroes for helping bend it a little sooner.” 10:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama calls the Supreme Court decision affirming gay marriage “a big step in our march toward equality.”

Obama plans to deliver a statement from the White House Rose Garden about the landmark ruling.

In a tweet, Obama says gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, “just like everyone else.” He uses the hashtag #LoveWins that has become a refrain for the pro-marriage movement.

Support PBS NewsHour: