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Republicans, Democrats Still Divided On Same-Sex Marriage After Ruling

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For the second day in a row, President Obama went to the White House Rose Garden to celebrate a Supreme Court decision. NPR's Tamara Keith was there and has this report on both the president's reaction and that of the Republicans who hope to succeed him.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: There were hugs and tears as dozens of White House staff gathered to watch President Obama deliver his remarks.

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BARACK OBAMA: This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believed in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.

KEITH: President Obama said that sometimes the move toward equality in America has come in small increments, but he said, today justice arrived like a thunderbolt.

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OBAMA: There's so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American, but today we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we've made our union a little more perfect.

KEITH: For Democratic politicians, the evolution on gay marriage essentially ended in 2012 when first Vice President Joe Biden and then President Obama declared in the midst of a re-election campaign that they favored allowing same-sex couples to marry. According to latest Pew survey, a full 65 percent of Democrats and Independents support gay marriage. On the Republican side, the politics are more perilous. According to the same Pew survey, only 35 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage. But when you dig into the numbers, many younger Republicans support it. Six in 10 Republican millennials - the future of the party - support same-sex marriage. And it is with this backdrop that the GOP candidates for president weighed in today on the court's ruling. On one end of the spectrum, there was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who said he'd support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

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BOBBY JINDAL: Marriage, as an institution between a man and a woman, was established by God. It cannot be altered by an earthly court. Now, the next step in this - the left, Hillary Clinton are going to be waging an all-out assault on our religious liberty rights. These rights are protected by the First Amendment.

KEITH: Retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, called on Congress to, quote, "make sure deeply-held religious views are respected and protected." Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said it is crucial that the country protect religious freedom but also not discriminate.

Soon to be declared presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said marriage laws should not be imposed on states by lawyers sitting in black robes at the Supreme Court, but...

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CHRIS CHRISTIE: That being said, those five lawyers get to impose it under our system. And so our job is going to be support the law of the land, and that, under the Supreme Court's ruling, is now the law of the land.

KEITH: Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham joined those saying they oppose but respect the court's decision. Graham went on to say that pursuing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage would be divisive and doomed to fail. He cited a quickly changing tide of public opinion. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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