Priebus: Same-sex marriage isn't a civil rights issue
May 13th, 2012
12:23 PM ET
11 years ago

Priebus: Same-sex marriage isn't a civil rights issue

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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Filed under: Reince Priebus • Republicans • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. taz

    Simple test:
    Replace straight or gay with black or white, if it sounds bigoted, its a civil rights issue.
    "People in this country, no matter *black or white*, deserve dignity and respect. However, that doesn't mean it carries on to marriage,"

    Priebus is just the latest bigot to support bigoted policy.

    May 13, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. Tom

    Is this right wing nut suggesting murder is a litmus test for validity?? I know gay men have been murdured just because they arr gay!! More GOP double talk!!!

    May 13, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. JC in Western U.S.

    Since there is no history of GOP leaders championing rights such as rights of survivorship, end of life decisions, adoption, etc. I have to conclude that they aren't all that worried about making sure those rights are protected. The way the law is written now, only a spouse can have those rights. Either let gay people be spouses or write legislation allowing the rights you claim to support. The GOP has done neither.

    Priebus says marriage is a defined thing and that gay marriage would be "other than" or "separate from" the traditional definition of marriage. So to me, he is saying he wants a relationship between gay partners to be separate from marriage but supports them having equal rights (such as those listed above) to those of a spouse. Sounds like "separate but equal" to me. How is that not Jim Crow?

    May 13, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. George

    I was married recently. The official was not associated with any religion. We had a bouncy castle for the guests to use during the reception. Based on my wedding bouncy castles are a mandatory part of weddings and we are violating the foundations of marriage in this country if they are not mandatory at weddings.

    May 13, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. MaryM

    Wow, talk about hate and bigotry. Coming from the Party of hate, bigotry and ignorance The Republicans.
    Just take a look at the Ryan Budget and understand how much they care for the middle class and poor Americans.

    May 13, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Mark

    We'll say it again- GOP preaches rights and small government except for those issues it wants to withhold rights and promote intrusive government. Hypocrisy?!

    May 13, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. Asturiano

    It is nonetheless DISCRIMINATION. The government should not issue any license based on gender. The government should get out of the marriage license business rather than discriminate. There is no rational reason why this should be a government function.

    May 13, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. dah

    Stubborn and stupid=republican thinking.

    May 13, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Pete/Ark

    "Civil Rights" = Rights under Civil Law....kinda a "no-brainer" for anyone...if they used thier brain...or has the definition changed and nobody let me know ?

    May 13, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Dewey

    Double standards, separation of Church and State and the GOP just don't get it. Hiding behind those smiles are the devil himself. I know, I was a Mormon and found out the hard way just how evil this church can be. Voting for Romney will destroy the America of freedom and peace. Romney will only support the very wealthy and subject the common person to 4 years of Mormon bigotry.

    May 13, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. revolting peasant

    I say let's start with affording gays all the benefits of marriage. If you don't want to call it marriage, that's okay with me. . . for now. Ultimately, these unions should be called "marriage" because it will strengthen the meaning of the word, not weaken it, and because it will help everyone to understand that a gay couple is no different than a straight couple.

    May 13, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Tinker

    I thought there was a separation of church and state? Guess we aren't in America any more ,Toto.......

    May 13, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. trex

    .....Keep on talking gop. You INSURE another 4 Obama years...............

    May 13, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. longtooth

    The republicans built their strength in the south with the Southern Strategy under Nixon. They played on the resentment against equal rights, and the South, which was historically democrat, went republican. They try to stand on both sides of the fence, but it's obvious where they really stand.

    May 13, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Charlie from the North

    He is of course wrong. Gay right are civil rights. Under his line of thinking "slavery" was actually an "inter-state commerce" issue.

    May 13, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Liberal4Obama

    He contradicts himself in the same breath, By saying they deserve dignity and respect he is making the case for gay marriage.

    The GOP is clueless

    May 13, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Katimae

    Brian-what an interesting idea. Let straight couples know what it feels like to be in an unrecognized relationship.

    May 13, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Phil

    so what is the legal definition of man and woman? If I'm a man and I show up to my wedding dressed as a woman and call myself a woman, who's job is it to determine for legal purposes what gender I am?

    May 13, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Sheepleherder

    The "Republican Party" is tearing itself to pieces on these issues that have no business being part of a political agenda. The party is hardly recognizable at this point. It's like watching a country like Afghanistan going from having a real "government" and turning it into something like the taliban where the "government" is more concerned about women hiding their faces than having clean running water. If there is a "Republican Party" in 2020, I'll be surprised.

    May 13, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Peace

    GOP are funny individuals. They don't want the government to interfere in peoples lives, like telling them to eat healthier, but they themselves want to interfere in gays and lesbians lives. Is there anything they miss seeing gays living their own lives? Please leave them alone and live your own lives.

    May 13, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Max Ramming

    40 years ago it was against the law in some states for a white person to marry a black... and they made the same foolish arguments about that issue that they make about gay marriage. They are just ignorant bigots. Hopefully someday soon they will look back and be ashamed of themselves. Hopefully.

    May 13, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Dann DFW

    This is an issue of CIVIL rights. This is about a government sanctioning a union of two persons under the LAW.

    Mr. Priebus is confusing CIVIL rights with RELIGIOUS rights. If a church doesn't want to allow gay marriage, then they don't have to perform them. They are free to take whatever stance they want and (as long as they don't interfere with another's rights) to try and convince others to adopt their point of view. (BTW for those few right wing nut jobs who insist on harassing others; nobody ever converted because they lost a shouting match.)

    May 13, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. CaliforniaBC

    And here we have the GOP agenda of inequality spelled out in succinct outdated terms.

    May 13, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  24. CaliforniaBC

    Transpose these statements onto the debate about civil rights of women and race and they will be the same thing we heard decades ago when people were fighting for the rights of those Americans.

    May 13, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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