(CNN) – With the Supreme Court announcing decisions on two big cases involving same-sex marriage Wednesday, an array of possible 2016 presidential candidates weighed in on the matter, positioning themselves in a highly-charged debate that could continue for years as states begin adapting to changes in the law.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed a same-sex marriage law in his state last year, said he did not agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a significant section of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies more than a thousand federal benefits to legally married, same-sex couples.
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"I don't think the ruling was appropriate. I think it was wrong," the Republican governor said on New Jersey 101.5 radio during his monthly "Ask the Governor" segment.
He argued the high court substituted the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, when the bill was passed and signed into law in 1996.
In his ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy said Wednesday the purpose and effect of the original law was to “demean” those who are legally married.
But Christie said Kennedy’s opinion was "incredibly insulting" to those who ushered the measure's passage nearly 20 years ago.
"That's a heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican Congress back in the 90s,” he said. “And it's just another example of judicial supremacy, rather than having government run by the people we actually vote for. So I thought it was a bad decision."
Christie said he killed last year's same-sex marriage bill, which was passed by the state legislature, because he thought it was an issue that should be decided directly by voters, not lawmakers. Personally, however, Christie is not in favor of gay and lesbian couples having the right to marry.
If another bill came before his desk proposing the same thing, Christie said he would again veto it.
"Let the people decide," he said.
But Democrats in his state, he argued, are playing political games and "don't want to put it on the ballot."
"I don't know why because they tell me all the time that it's very popular in New Jersey and would overwhelmingly pass–and they say that's a reason I should sign it," he said. "Well OK, if it's overwhelmingly popular, then put it on the ballot and it will pass."
Interestingly, Christie invited listeners who wanted same-sex marriage recognized in New Jersey to call their state representatives and urge them to put the issue on the ballot this November, when Christie will be on the same ballot for his re-election bid.
The governor has come under attack for his personal stance on same-sex marriage as recently as this week. State Sen. Barbara Buono, his Democratic opponent, and her campaign released a YouTube video of her 22-year-old daughter, Tessa, criticizing Christie.
"As a gay American, I have a stake in what our governor says about marriage equality," Tessa says in the video. She goes on to argue that her mother, if elected, would "stop the bigoted policies that have been at the cornerstone of Chris Christie's social agenda."
Other potential 2016 presidential candidates gave statements about the Supreme Court decisions Wednesday, and many Republicans held the same view as Christie, though some more strongly than others.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the high court made a "serious mistake" and "overstepped its important, but limited role."
"These types of disagreements should be settled through the democratic process, as the Founders intended, not through litigation and court pronouncements," he said in a statement.
"My hope is that those of us who believe in the sanctity and uniqueness of traditional marriage will continue to argue for its protection in a way that is respectful to the millions of American sons and daughters who are gay," he said. "It is also my hope that those who argue for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will refrain from assailing the millions of Americans who disagree with them as bigots."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also described the decisions as an "overreach."
"Once again, the Court has chosen to substitute its own views of public policy for the democratically expressed will of the voters," he said in a statement.
Calling the family the "fundamental building block of society," Cruz said he "strongly" supports marriage between one man and one woman, but the "courts improperly substituted their preferences for those of the people."
In contrast, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a brief statement with her husband.
"By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union," they said.
On the Proposition 8 ruling–which dismissed a voter-approved same-sex marriage ban in California–the Clintons were "encouraged that marriage equality may soon return" to the state.
Back on the Republican side, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told ABC News he believes the ruling on DOMA was appropriate and said the issue should be one left to the states.
As for the growing divide among Republicans on same-sex marriage, Paul said "the party is going to have to agree to disagree on some of these issues."
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in statement that marriage is a "unique relationship between one man and one woman" and "the foundation for the family."
In a measured manner, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee added that he respects those with a different view and wants to carry on the conversation.
"There are honest disagreements over how we should recognize different legal arrangements," he said. "The states will now decide this issue through the democratic process."
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, an unapologetic social conservative, argued the decisions were destructive to the traditional family unit. Falling in line with other Republicans, Santorum said this kind of decision should be made by voters.
"These great moral issues of our time should be left to the democratic process, not to five activist judges," he said. "Time and time again, when the definition of marriage has been put before the people, we have affirmed the unique and irreplaceable role the union of a man and a women play in society."
He pledged to continue fighting for "a definition of marriage that gives children their birthright, a mom and a dad, and our country the best chance for a great future."
All the people you listed above have absolutely no chance at becoming president. I am sorry but I could careless what they have to say.America is just to dang smart to elect any of them.
Whoever wants a false Supreme Court to take their Votes and send them to the "vengeance of an Eternal H'll –
(Jude verse 7) should be wise enough to know that they do not love them. Wise Men Obey GOD not MEN(Acts 5: 29)
These statements only serve to show that the GOP has utterly failed to rebrand its image and will lose the 2016 presidential election before it even starts.
I normally agree with Christie, but I don't like his opinion that gay marriage should be something that can be voted on. One of the whole points of having a democratic republic (emphasis on the republic) is that it allows the minority to have rights and to prevent the majority from voting away the rights of the minority (a situation sometimes cynically referred to as 'mob rule').
Where would the Civil Rights movement have gone if people, especially in the south, could vote against the rights of black people?
I liked what Marco Rubio said. Stop calling us bigots if we are standing up for the right for children to have both a loving father and mother. If you are the "most accepting group" in the country, then why can't you accept my belief in a child's birthright?!
Maybe the USA will break on the basis on liberal and conservative ideology
Think about it!
I see. The constant cry now is boo hoo legislation we really supported DOMA has been partially repealed, and now it should be up to voters and states to decide i.e the people. if that is true then QED the opposite should have applied to Doma!?
Sorry two words only come to mind on this matter. Republicans are Bigoted and Hypocritical Labels which it is regrettable to say have BEEN BOTH EARNED AND DESERVED!!
I love how the Republicans say the court overstepped its boundaries and it should be left up to the government to decide. If that were the case then slavery would still be legal in this country. Just because people believe a certain way doesn't give them the right to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country. The founding fathers knew that when they created the Supreme Court. It's all about checks and balance and the congress and president in the 90's were out of line when creating a policy that took away the basic rights of a group of people only because they used the bible to justify their actions in a country that church and state are to be separate. The bible should never be the litmus test to all the laws of this land because of its condescending views that man have written down.
And at the end of all these comments about "judicial overreach" and "ignoring the democratic process", I'm sure each and every one of these guys said the decision to overturn the Voting Rights Act was a good move.
Republicans who think the Supreme court has overstepped its authority have not read the Constitution; see Article III, Section 2, which states very clearly what the drafters of the Constitution wanted. It constantly amazes me how uneducated and misinformed about the Constitution elected Republicans are. Common sense would tell you that if you were elected, you ought to read the document carefully, since it tells you how to do your job and establishes ground rules for each branch of the government, but these dopes are so filled with hubris that they think they can make up what the Constitution says.
Governor Christie has made it clear that he is not ready to listen to the will of the duly elected representatives of the state of New Jersey. Now he appears to not even be prepared to be convinced by the learned reasoning of the US Supreme Court. The people of New Jersey have a choice – re-elect a governor who is out of touch with New Jersians AND the US Supreme Court....OR vote for a guy who wants to pander to the lowest common denominator in the Republican Party in the likes of Mississippi.
...those who ushered the measure's passage nearly 20 years ago....
Chris Christie....That was then, this is now. Are you hinting that you are operating with an outdated thinking mind set?
How far does that go?.....1950's....1940's?
If you are going to continue living in the past, then give up being govenor, because the people need someone to lead them into the future. As sports goes.... that was STRIKE ONE for you.
In California voters voted for same sex marriage. Than the courts got involved and overturned the voters vote. So why leave it up to the voters when their will is ignored by state courts. Wonderful.
Christie values nothing more then power. Freedom for all....meh.
Christie you want a winning defactor Presidential running mate ? Don't look no farther you found one. Putting any issues on the ballot is waste of people's time we had one in California which those 4 supreme judges have thrashed because of homo lobbyist silver and gold. Seriously people how can you harden your hearts so much ? Supremacy have gone with that judgement.
Didn't the Republicans crucify Obama a few years back when he criticized a supreme court decision? I've been married to my wife for 18 years and I'm not really sure how allowing gay and lesbian couples their civil rights will in any way effect my marriage.
A groups civil rights should never be put to a democratic vote. Where would African-Americans be right now if the emancipation proclamation were put to a popular vote? Would women have the right to vote if that was put to popular vote?
As he sheds more pounds and talks more we will find out who the real Christie is and 2016 is not his year either.
I remember when homosexuality was a sin.As an afro american it disturbs me when the word bigot is used to describe people who still think its a sin. Holy matrimony was created by God for a man and a woman. As an american why cant a person chose who their benefits and such go to? Surely all of the great thinkers in our govt could come with something that includes all of its citizens without leaving others out.
This is something that will go on for years because not everyone is going to agree with how marriage is defined even though everyone deserves equal treatment. This is why 35 states don't agree.