Priebus: Same-sex marriage isn't a civil rights issue
May 13th, 2012
12:23 PM ET
10 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. John

    Right after that, the honorable Mr. Priebus went on to explain that we're all a bunch of idiots, the sky really is green and not blue.

    May 13, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    One out of three (1 out of 3) straight marriages end in divorce so let's have that righteous conversation out family values that is being torn down by straight people.

    May 13, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. CA Liberal

    So....Prince Reibus sez gays deserve respect, but not that much respect. And not nearly as much respect as I deserve. Gee Wiz that's really white of him.

    May 13, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. mcskadittle

    The Party of Ignorance and Hate has spoken

    May 13, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. rla

    One thing is a function of government and the other a function of a church- over time we got them mixed up

    May 13, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Brian

    If marriage isn't a civil right, then it shouldn't be recognized by the government, Federal or State. That will certiantly affect straight marriages more then letting gays marry will.

    May 13, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    If republicans lose in 2012 I will blame Mr.Priebus

    “People in this country, no matter straight or gay, deserve dignity and respect”
    But LGBT can’t marry their soul mate
    If LGBT fight for their rights then “I don't think it's a matter of civil rights.” Mr.Priebus

    For LGBT Mitt Romney “You can’t marry but you can raise child” But GOP in Wisconsin telling single parents you cant raise child that mean for straight if you’re not married you cant raise a child

    May 13, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. lisa2010

    there are more divorces in so called traditional marriages (man and woman) than in gay marriages...so what is the secret that a gay couple holds to a long lasting relationship than a straight couple??? unconditional love and respect for each other through THICK AND THIN!!! YOU don't see too much of that kind of relationship in married couples, we're so busy minding somebody's else's business, and being so judgemental of others that we forget about our other half that we said "I DO" to at the altar (OR WHEREEVER IT WAS)...As the JESUS SAID" FIRST TAKE OUT THE SPECK FROM YOUR EYE, THAN MAYBE YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE OUT THE SPECK FROM YOUR BROTHER'S EYE"!!!!!

    May 13, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. maf

    Again, I thought we had progressed further than this as a nation. Obviously, the GOP will only support equal rights to those who are the SAME as them!! Narrow, exclusive, sickening and backward, that's what this Republican party has become!

    If you agree with this current GOP direction, you are part of the problem, where the powerful majority misuse their strength to continue to marginalize those who need equality the most!

    May 13, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. brandon

    Slavery was historical and religious and legal in this country too...why change it? Republicans just hate to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future.

    May 13, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Andy

    Hey Reince, what would Rush's and Newt's definition of marriage be? They have a marrying preacher on stand-by, so they should be well qualified to define marriage for the GOP

    May 13, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. a in austin

    And where is the foreign affairs advisor in Romeny's campaign? Silenced to the point of resigning?

    May 13, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. realitycnn

    Priebus is wrong, and this IS a Civil Rights issue. The definition references individuals/citizens and NOWHERE does it say that Civil Rights are ONLY for a specific group (ie. Race, Women, Gays, Religion, Disabled, etc.). All of these groups need Civil/Equal Rights, for example, for safeguards they may enjoy or seek without constraint in the following areas: Rights in housing, jobs, public accommodations, equal access to government benefits, marriage equality, and equal protection of the law, etc., . . . . and if you don’t believe that, then maybe your Civil/Equal Rights should be taken away from YOU, and you are no better than the Bigots who want to deny you these rights. Yes, there are STILL many bigoted people who believe from a RELIGIOUS standpoint that Blacks, Latinos, Women, Gays, Non-Christians, different Religions, etc. should not have Equal/Civil Rights.

    Civil Rights/Equality are about many DIFFERENT Groups, and this is NOT about the DEGREE to which ANY group has been discriminated against/mistreated­, or COMPARING one atrocity or STRUGGLE / PLIGHT to another. Many groups, ie. Blacks (and other races), Women, Jews, Gays, Religions, Disabled, etc. have HORRIFIC stories worldwide (‘same’ and ‘different’) to tell about discrimination and Unequal treatment aimed at their groups. For example, some ‘same’ stories for Blacks, Women, Jews, and Gays would be rape, torture, beatings, medical guinea pigs, bigotry, no equal rights, etc. . Some of the ‘different’ stories would be slavery (Blacks), burning in ovens (Jews), lobotomies (Gays), burned at the stake (Women deemed as witches), etc., and many times people used their RELIGIOUS beliefs in an attempt to justify the horrific atrocities against these groups. In the U.S. we live in a Democracy Republic and not a Theocracy, and your religious beliefs should have no impact on people’s Equal/Civil Rights. . . . . . . . .The POINT is regardless of the horrific degree of discrimination/atrocity (same or different) or your religious faith or belief (Bible, Koran, etc.- which should have no impact on ‘Civil Law‘ in the U.S.), ALL of these groups should be given respect and Equal Rights. Whether you like or support a group or not is IRRELVANT: Most people are NOT looking for your approval, they just want the same rights as everyone else. You may not like Blacks, Women, Gays, Disabled, Religious people, etc, and they may not like or approve of you, but ALL of these groups need/deserve Civil/Equal Rights.

    May 13, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    News flash, Rince: Marriage is a legal contract – and our country is founded on civil law, not religious law.

    You want theocracy? Move to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

    May 13, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. josh101

    Let me copy a post from "YeahRight" in another topic. I sincerely hope the equal right Priebus talks about include:

    Tax Benefits
    -–Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
    -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

    Estate Planning Benefits
    -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
    -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
    -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
    -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.

    Government Benefits
    -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
    -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
    -–Receiving public as-sistance benefits.
    -–Employment Benefits
    -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
    -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
    -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
    -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.

    Medical Benefits
    -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
    -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

    Death Benefits
    -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
    -–Making burial or other final arrangements.

    Family Benefits
    -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
    -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
    -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
    -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

    Housing Benefits
    -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
    -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

    Consumer Benefits
    -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
    -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
    -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
    -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
    -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
    -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
    -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
    -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
    -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
    -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

    May 13, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. constrain

    Hard to imagine the bigoted position will gain many supporters.

    I think the more people are pressed to really think about this the more people will fall on the side of understanding it to be a civil rights issue.

    May 13, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Gabe

    Another ignorant Republican? I'm shocked.

    May 13, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. happyfrenchman

    "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," That in and of itself is how they see it in it's most presentable light... which, if you hold it up to a light, is a piece of rotten cheese.

    May 13, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. StevenB

    the Republican Party stands by dignity and respect for gay Americans

    PANTS ON FIRE!!!!!

    May 13, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. dt

    Slavery wasn't a civil right issue either – when those with an agenda wanted it that way. I am tired about all this gay bigotry personally, really who gives a rip who sleeps with whom. This entire issue has become politicized for one simple reason – favoritism of one group over another with respect to tax laws. I suppose it is OK to give politicians tax breaks too just because they are all crooks and take bribes. Either solve the problem by removing tax benefits of one group over another or give everyone the same benefits. The Country's president should be for equal rights – and the supreme court needs to make this so for everyone.

    May 13, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Rev. Schaeffer

    So gays can have all the same rights of marriage, but they have to drink from the "civil union" fountain... and this isn't a civil rights issue?

    May 13, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Paul

    No one has the right to impose their religious beliefs on another. Sin is a religious notion and has no place in any discussion about gay marriage. I don't give a damn about what someone else thinks is sin. The conservatives goals are to deny someone else their civil rights. The center of the GOP argument is Biblical interpretation. It's a sad commentary about our society if we base our society's choices on interpreting a work of fiction. Moreover, its a work of fiction edited over the centuries by various authors about mythology from more than 2000 years ago.

    May 13, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. BOb the Prairie Dog

    Thirty years from now we'll be talking about this crop of Republicans in the same light that we talked about Jessie Helms still clinging to antiquated Jim Crow laws in the 90's: Out of touch and a National Joke.

    May 13, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. lex

    Why does marriage have be defined as being between a man and a woman? Why can't the definition of marriage be a legal contract, union, or whatever you want to call it, between two human beings? Let churches decided if they want to perform the ceremonies. Leave the actual marriage to the law.

    May 13, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. n00p

    How could denying a certain minority the rights to marry – not be an issue of basic civil rights or even basic human dignity?

    As far as any contrast with Jim Crow, Jim Crow laws made inter-racial marriage illegal up until 1967. So is denying marriage a Jim Crow issue? Yes, it absolutely was a Jim Crow issue.

    May 13, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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