Opposing same-sex marriage not priority for Boehner, Reid evolves
May 10th, 2012
02:13 PM ET
11 years ago

Opposing same-sex marriage not priority for Boehner, Reid evolves

Washington (CNN) - While House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he disagreed with the President's support of same-sex marriage, he downplayed the issue's importance in the November elections emphasizing instead his focus on the economy.

"I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," Boehner said, but quickly added, "the President and the Democrats can talk about all this all they want but the fact is that the American people are focused on our economy and they're asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?'"

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Pressed repeatedly about plans to move any legislation to restrict same-sex marriages, Boehner acknowledged some members are emphasizing the issue, but he immediately returned the conversation back to measures that would create jobs, making it clear the socially divisive issue was not a priority for him.

Why did Boehner change the subject? A House Republican leadership source told CNN Republicans believe the issue of same-sex marriage splits the country, so it is a "wash politically."

Boehner and his team also calculated that the president's renewed focus on same-sex marriage gives Republicans even more running room on the economy – the issue voters care most about.

"Every fight, every squabble we get in dilutes our focus on economy," said the House GOP leadership source.

"This allows us to make the contrast we like. They [Democrats] talk about x, y, z and we talk about the economy," said the GOP source.

Still, Boehner neglected to mention that he and top Republicans in the House approved using taxpayer funds to pay an outside attorney to represent the House of Representatives in an effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed by President Clinton which allows states to restrict federal benefits for same sex couples, and permits states to not recognize same-sex marriage laws in other states. The Justice Department said last year it would not fight for the law in the courts.

Asked about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's pledge to press for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, Boehner remained on message, saying "I'm going to stay focused on jobs."

Underlining that focus, Boehner's own press shop emailed out a press clip reporting on his comments at the press conference.

In the Senate where Democrats are in charge, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would consider bringing a vote to the Senate floor to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

"If a state legalized civil unions or marriages, then the federal government wouldn't pay benefits РSocial Security…retirement benefits. It would do none of that and I think that's wrong. So what, we'll be happy to take a look at it," said Reid in response to a question from CNN.

He then added that Republicans would likely try to block a Defense of Marriage Act repeal on the Senate floor.

"It's not, it's not a, it's not a Democratic problem, it's a Republican problem," said Reid.

He also said that based on his work early in life as a lawyer on domestic issues, he believes laws governing same sex marriage are best left up to the states.

When it comes to his personal views, Reid released a statement Wednesday night saying he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. However, he also said his children and grandchildren have made him understand that society is more accepting of same-sex marriage.

Reid said Thursday if the issue came for a vote in Nevada, he would vote to support same-sex marriage.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to tamp down the notion that President Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage could impact conservative Democrats competing in tight races in the upcoming election, calling the move "more important than any political consequences."

Pelosi, an early supporter of gay marriage, said "the statement that the President made yesterday was something that was the right thing to do for our country and it filled my heart with joy."

Referring to the President's announcement Tuesday, the House Democratic Leader told reporters Democrats "didn't know it was coming." And Pelosi pushed back on the notion that the President decided to publicize his support of gay marriage because it would help him raise money among those in the gay community and Democratic circles who were pushing to change the party's platform on the issue.

"I really dismiss the idea that this had anything to do with money," Pelosi said.

Filed under: Harry Reid • House • John Boehner • Same-sex marriage • Senate
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Smartest thing Boehner's said in years. It'll probably cost him his leadership in the Tea House.

    May 10, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |

    The orange Weeper of the House and the GOBP promised jobs in 2010,and went abortion crazy once in office. They can't flip it around toward President Obama now. The GOBP are job killers.

    May 10, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. California Gary

    I would ask the same question of Mr. Boehner........you became the Speaker stating that jobs would be your first priority. So where are the jobs Mr. Speaker? How many bills did you oppose that would have actually created jobs just to block what the President was trying to do? How many things have you either blocked or watered down that would have benefitted our economy just to keep the President from being able to claim a victory? You sir, are a political hack and have no standing to critisize anyone.

    May 10, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Blindersoff

    Yeah Boehner, forget gay rights, who do they think they are? they have decimated the rainbow and now they are after the sacred union of the God almighty and have turned their back on the true nature of male and female. I get it and, and it pains me to say, you are right, the focus should be on jobs . . . So my question to you house smoker, where are the jobs? You are by far the worst Speaker of the House ever . . . a complete failure. Period.

    May 10, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    This thing is for legal rights, ok. Lot is states are legalizing gay marriages. It is quite normal now. Canada legalized. So are other industrialized nations.

    May 10, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Amazing. Here we have spent the last 18 months asking Spkr. Boehner where are the jobs that his Tea Party promised the American people, and he flips it by demanding of the President, "where are the jobs." Fascinating.

    May 10, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Marlen in Houston

    Question for you Mr. Speaker....where is the Jobs Bill? You know, the platform that you and the GOP ran on in 2010...remember?.....You lied about jobs being a priority so you could get the House, and then continued to play wedge politics as usual. At least be consistent, whihc I understand is a challenge for you and your crew

    May 10, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would like to know why this same sex marriage thing is getting so much news. There is no real point for except for a small group of people on either side of the issue. I would like to know why Boehner hasn't brought to the floor of the House any compromise legislation that he and the president have agreed to? If he can't get his members in line, then what kind of speaker/leader is he?

    May 10, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Ex-GOP Con

    "Where are the jobs?" eh, Boehnor? You tell me. You've had almost 2 years in the House. Where are they? Are you admitting you failed?

    May 10, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. annette

    what a hypocrite you are boehner. you promised jobs if the people voted for you which they did and now i ask you "where are the jobs you promised"? you would rather give to the rich and take from the poor/middle class. so far i have not heard anything positive that you and yours are doing to move the country forward. it seems to me you are taking us back to nowhere.

    May 10, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. mommytwice

    The republican party has done not one thing to produce, create or assist with job creation. Not ONE. They have, however, obstructed, resisted, and filibustered so they can thwart the president. Yeah, the republicans have the welfare of the nation on their minds...Suuuuure they do. They are willing to keep millions out of work to put one man out of a job.

    May 10, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Imagine how far we would be out of the republican near depression if a couple of republicans would have voted for our president's jobs bills. As it is, we have come a long way since Bush left without a single republican vote.

    May 10, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    "Where are the jobs?"

    – the House passed the "In God We Trust" act of 2012
    – the House passed H.R.-1, which repealed the Affordable Care Act.
    – the House passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.
    – the House tried to renege on our creditors by not raising the debt ceiling.
    – and of course there's more. This House passed more do nothing legislaton than any House in hisory.

    May 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Working Class Hero

    Funny how Boehner says he is focusing on the economy but yet all the GOP trolls in his Congress can't seem to stop focusing on what gay dudes do in their bedrooms..... If they were really serious on job creation they would have presented something that actually has bipartisan backing and that can pass the Senate instead of the ideological non-sense drummed up time and time again that sacrifices the poor and middle class for the delight of their 1% corporate masters.

    May 10, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. David in Houston

    How about those jobs, Mr. Speaker?

    Oh, that's right. You still have yours so to hell with the rest of America...

    May 10, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. rs

    gee Mr. Boehner, that is exactly the question Americans had when you started passing laws on birth control and abortion instead of all those jobs bills you promised two years ago.

    May 10, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Blindersoff

    Yeah, again Boehner, where are the job?

    May 10, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. jason

    As an african american i beleive that human rights issues are just as important as the economy. It really hurts when i see people hiding there bigotry behind there politics weather you beleive this is for political gain or not in 2012 there should be equality for all human beings

    May 10, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Jim

    So, Mr. Speaker, I believe your party "swept" into power in the House on the very promise of creating jobs. Where are they? I love how if jobs are being lost, it's the President's fault, but if they are being created, the House takes credit. Where are the job-creation bills? All I've see from this session is discussion on getting the President out in 1 term. You sold your soul to be Chairman, but have shown no leadership whatsoever. Typical right-wing buffoonery.

    May 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. jesseballew

    The American voters have elected many Bully's n other really bad Folks President of The United States during our History. If Gov. Romney is elected...The Nation will survive. We always have.

    May 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. SKOKIE

    Yes Mr Speaker we are asking where are the jobs you and your part promised in the 2012 elections. People are still waiting.

    May 10, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Jerry

    I think he has a point. Right now, America's one and only priority should be fixing the economy and lowering that $15 trillion debt. Everything else takes a backseat.

    May 10, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. California Conservative

    Poor liberals. They not know what they do.

    May 10, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. California Conservative

    Next on the agenda polygamy after all who does it hurt?

    May 10, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. A Disgusted Former Republican

    Didn't the Tan Man campaign on job creation in 2010? How many jobs have the Greedy Old Pigs created? NONE!

    May 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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