Republican presidential hopefuls may have a problem retaking the presidency if they continue to oppose same-sex marriage. Here's a look at why, and where the top likely contenders stand.
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A new Huffington Post poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, shows that 35 percent of likely voters would be "somewhat" or "much less likely" to vote for a candidate that doesn't support same-sex marriage.
Even though 31 percent would be "somewhat more" or "much more likely" to vote for that candidate, senior analyst John Zogby said that these poll numbers are problematic, especially because Republicans already don't have the votes of many minorities and young voters.
Republicans are hearing "a demographic death knell, so they have to appeal to a wider base," he said. "Taking a stance against gay marriage may position you as a conservative in the primary, but it could be fatal in the general."
As we get closer to 2016, it's important to look at where the crop of possible Republican candidates stand on the issue.
Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor wrote in 1994 that the LGBT community does not deserve equal rights, arguing, "[Should] sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No."
But he seems resigned to the fact that states have the right to decide on the issue.
"We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law," Bush said early this month. "I hope that we can also show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue -- including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."
Ben Carson: If this former neurosurgeon became President, he would actually go as far to remove judges who support equality.
"Thirty-two states have indicated that marriage is between a man and a woman, and a few judges have come and overturn that. That, as far as I’m concerned, is unconstitutional," he said in a radio interview. "When judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them. Most people don’t know that because they don’t know the Constitution."
Actually, as Think Progress points out, judges can only be removed from office for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors."
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor also goes with the safe middle line that states should be allowed to decide on same-sex marriage, but not the Supreme Court. However, in 2012 he vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey.
"We’ve resolved that issue in New Jersey through the courts. We are now moving forward as an administration in terms of enforcing the law as the court has interpreted it and each state should their opportunity to be able to make that decision through their process, " he said.
“I do not believe that this is something that should be imposed from the United States Supreme Court down to the states."
“The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible,” Cruz said. “Marriage is a question for the States. That is why I have introduced legislation, S. 2024, to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage. And that is why, when Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws."
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor doesn't think that states should listen to judges who uphold the right to same-sex marriage because it would be "morally wrong." He told states that they should push back against the courts' decisions, inaccurately arguing that they're invalid because courts can't make laws (though courts wouldn't be creating laws by invalidating same-sex marriage bans). And then he compared same-sex marriage to slavery.
Huckabee isn't shy about how far to the right he is.
"I may be lonely, I may be the only one, but I'm going to stand absolutely faithful to the issue of marriage not because it's a politically expedient thing to do because it isn't," he said. "I'm going to do it because I believe it's the right position, it's the biblical position, it's the historical position."
Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor is also pushing for a federal amendment that would overrule a Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage by allowing states rule on the issue.
“I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making … a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage,” he said on ABC's This Week. “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator is far more relaxed when it comes to this issue than many of his conservative colleagues. Though he hasn't come out in support of marriage equality, he said he's open to changing his position.
"I believe in old-fashioned traditional marriage, but I don't really think the government needs to be too involved in this and I think the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue," he said in an October CNN interview.
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry said. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."
Mitt Romney: If this Etch-a-Sketch candidate runs for a third time, who knows what his position will be. When he was the governor of Massachusetts, he refused to allow new birth certificates that reflected the gender of each parent, insisting that every child had to have a mother and father. Parents actually needed to get Romney's office's permission to cross out the word "father" to write "second parent." He even told a gay woman, "I didn't know you had families."
"Some gays are actually having children born to them,'' he said in 2005. "It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father."
And in 2013, he said, "I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a women, and that's because I believe the ideal setting for raising a child is where there's a mother and a father in the home."
Rick Santorum: The former Pennsylvania senator isn't changing his hard-right position. In 2013, he said that it would be "suicidal" if the Republican Party ever supported same-sex marriage. And last week at the Iowa Freedom Summit, he said, "I'm going to be focused and centered on seeing what we can do to help restore the American family."
Scott Walker: After Wisconsin started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, Walker said that the debate was "over" in his state, even though he had previously supported the ban.
"For us, it's over in Wisconsin," Walker said. "The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land and we will be upholding it."
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr