RNC Chair Priebus: Gay People Deserve Dignity and Respect, As Long as That Doesn't Include Allowing Them to Get Married
On this Sunday's Meet the Press, RNC Chair Reince Priebus was asked about Sen. Rand Paul's remarks over the weekend where he said that he "didn't think Obama's views on marriage could get any gayer," which naturally he tried to distance himself from and at least had the decency to admit that's not the way the party should be talking about the issue. The same could not be said for his defense of their presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his doubling down on the Republicans' stance against gay marriage.
Priebus told host David Gregory that a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is part of their party's platform and that he did not agree that it is a civil rights issue. Apparently the standard to meet for being a civil rights issue includes people being murdered according to the RNC Chair.
I guess Priebus doesn't think anyone has ever been killed because they're gay or for standing up for the LGBT community. There are also more that have been murdered in efforts to unionize in America than I can possibly try to count, but I'm sure the Republicans would never think that qualifies as a civil right either. We all know how much they hate unions that they'd never apply that same standard to that movement. And I've never heard anyone make the same arguments when it comes to women's rights and the lack of a sufficient number of murders disqualifying that movement as one that would be considered a civil rights movement as well.
If this is the hard stance the party wants to take on gay marriage, I'm hoping they find themselves in the dust bin of history with the same people who opposed equal rights for blacks and for women for their bigotry sooner and not later. There's nothing "gracious and caring" about treating any of our fellow Americans as second class citizens when it comes to their right to have the same protections as straight married couples do in regard to their relationships with those they love and their families.
Transcript below the fold.
GREGORY: Let's talk about how different people are talking about this, including some Republicans. Senator Rand Paul is getting a lot of attention and criticism for a comment that he made on Friday. Let me show you it.
SEN. RAND PAUL: The president you know recently weighed in on marriage. And you know he said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical but I wasn't sure that his views on marriage could get any gayer.
GREGORY: As chairman of the party do you think that's appropriate? An appropriate way to talk about this?
PRIEBUS: I don't know what Rand meant by that? No, I'll defend the Republican party and I can defend our nominee Mitt Romney. But here's what I do think. If you go back--
GREGORY: But that particular comment. Would you be pleased if Republicans talk about it in that way?
PRIEBUS: Here's what I know. Mitt Romney is a gracious, caring person who believes that every individual in this country, including people who are gay, deserve the dignity and respect that every American deserves. But that doesn't change the fact that we believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. So--
GREGORY: Do you think the fight for gay marriage is a civil rights struggle ?
PRIEBUS: 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. I mean marriage has to have a definition. And we just happen to believe it's between a man and a woman. So--
GREGORY: For those people who do think it's a civil right would say all those things you've just said could have been said about Jim Crow laws.
PRIEBUS: Well, I--
GREGORY: Except the religion piece.
PRIEBUS: I think there's a big difference between people that have been murdered and everything else that have come with Jim Crow than marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman. Here's what we agree on. Is that people in this country, no matter straight or gay, deserve dignity and respect. However, that doesn't mean it carries on to marriage. And I think that most Americans agree that in this country the legal and historical and religious union, marriage has to have the definition of one man and one woman.
GREGORY: But do you believe that gays and lesbians in America deserve equal rights?
PRIEBUS: I think they deserve equal rights in regard to, say, discrimination in the workplace, issues such as, as Mitt Romney has pointed out numerous times, hospital visitations. I mean I think that for the sake of dignity and respect, sure. But if you're defining marriage as a civil right, then no. I don't believe that people who are same sex should be able to married under our laws.
GREGORY: I want to ask you one more on this. This past week, and I'll just read it here, you said here you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. "We," meaning the Republicans, "believe that you can't federalize that kind of mandate." And yet the standard bearer of the party, Governor Romney, wants to do just that. He does want to federalize it. He supports a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I agree with the governor. And maybe I--
GREGORY: How can you--
PRIEBUS: --because I--
GREGORY: Right. And in his speech --
PRIEBUS: --perhaps it was in artful, but here is the point. At the time we were debating President Obama's incredible evolution of mind on this issue. As if the American people are sitting around as the hourglass is being turned and you can wait for President Obama to evolve over his opinions on this particular issue.
My point is as we sit here today, under today's law, we don't have a marriage amendment. But under today's law President Obama's decision in front of Robin Roberts isn't going to change anything. The fact of the matter is we have DOMA. We don't have an amendment. And states across America are making this decision. And states across are America--
GREGORY: But you're saying--
PRIEBUS: --agree with me.
GREGORY: You said, "Don't federalize it."
GREGORY: The nominee of the party says, "Federalize it. A constitutional ban."
GREGORY: Is that what the party believes?
PRIEBUS: Of course. And for Mitt Romney--
GREGORY: And this is be part of the platform?
PRIEBUS: It is part of the platform. And for the record, we do agree with a marriage amendment and we do agree with DOMA. But as we sit today we don't have a constitutional amendment--
GREGORY: But you would want to see one at this point?
PRIEBUS: Sure I would.
PRIEBUS: But here's the point. We're talking about this issue now for an entire eight minutes on an incredible show on Sunday morning across America while millions of people are out of work. Our debt is going in the wrong direction. This president hasn't fulfilled his promises that will put our economy back on track. Those are the issues that people care about. When I go across this country people are filling their tanks half full of gas. They can't afford their groceries. This president hasn't fulfilled his promises. And here we go again. Down this path.
We concede we have a different view on marriage. That's an issue that if people want to vote on it they'll have a clear choice. But what really is going on in this country is that we have a president who made a lot of promises. He's in love with the sound of his own voice but he can't follow through on a promise. That's what we want to see for America.