Washington (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday said the Republican Party stands by dignity and respect for gay Americans, but that those sentiments do not change his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"People in this country, no matter straight or gay, deserve dignity and respect. However, that doesn't mean it carries on to marriage," Priebus said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
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Although Priebus said he supports equal rights for gay Americans, including fair treatment in the workplace and hospital visitations, he pushed back against the suggestion that same-sex marriage falls in the same "civil rights" category.
"I don't think it's a matter of civil rights. I think it's just a matter of whether or not we're going to adhere to something that's been historical and religious and legal in this country for many, many years," Priebus said. "I mean, marriage has to have a definition, and we just happen to believe it's between a man and woman."
He also sought to contrast Jim Crow laws, which enforced segregation, with bans on same-sex marriage, a comparison some have made following the president's announcement Wednesday that he now supports such unions.
"I think there's a big difference between people that have been murdered and everything else that has come with Jim Crow, than marriage between a man and man and a woman and a woman," he said.
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