Nation

Presidential candidates split on gay marriage ruling

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
AP file
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Presidential candidates took to social media to express their joy – or disappointment – at the US Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states Friday, with sentiment breaking down along the fault lines of political ideology. Democrats were elated; Republicans not so much.

The issue of marriage equality has been largely embraced by Democrats but remains a divisive issue for Republicans, whose base includes many conservative evangelicals who argue that marriage should be defined in biblical terms as between one man and one woman. And some Republican candidates argue that states – not the federal government– have right to establish their laws pertaining to marriage.

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and one of 13 declared Republican candidates, tweeted his aversion to Friday’s decision, saying “Five lawyers on #SCOTUS can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than they can the laws of gravity.”

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Huckabee, a conservative Christian, also tweeted the hashtags “#SCOTUS #OneManOneWoman” above a picture that read: “The Supreme Court IS NOT the Supreme Being.”

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Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana expressed similar sentiments, tweeting that marriage was “established by God and no earthly court can alter that.”

Both presidential candidates included links directing followers to their campaign websites and longer statements.

Jeb Bush, Florida’s former governor and a devout Catholic, used his Twitter feed to direct followers to a statement posted on his website that reiterated his belief in “traditional marriage.”

“I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision,” he said in a statement posted online. “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.”

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He then called for the protection of “religious freedom.”

Dr. Ben Carson made a similar plea in a statement disagreeing with the high court’s ruling.

“I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected,” Carson, a former neurosurgeon, said in the statement that included his support of civil unions for same-sex couples. “The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took a more measured tone in response to the court’s ruling, reiterating his stance as a “proud defender of traditional marriage” and someone who believes states should ultimately be allowed to determine marriage laws. But he went on to say that he would not attempt to amend the Constitution to align with those beliefs.

“Rather than pursing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans,” he said in a statement on his website. “While we have differences, it is time for us to move forward together respectfully and as one people.”

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Meanwhile, the campaign logo on former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Twitter page – normally a giant red and blue “H” – was replaced with a rainbow of colors, indicative of the gay pride flag. The Twitter feed from the front-runner for the Democratic nominee included several micro-blasts about Friday’s watershed decision, including one signed “H.”

It read: “Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality — & the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible. – H.”

The Twitter of feed of Democrat Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, was filled with messages conveying pride and reminding voters that Maryland was one of the states where same-sex marriage was legal before Friday’s decisions.

“So grateful to the people of MD for leading the way on this important issue of human dignity and equality under the law. #MarrigageEquality,” O’Malley’s campaign tweeted less than an hour after the decision was announced.

Moments later came another tweet, this one including a picture of a smiling little boy being held by his mothers who were wearing buttons that said “love.”

“Reminded me of Will and his moms on the day we passed marriage equality in MD. There is no greater human right than love,” it said.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, perhaps the most liberal candidate in the race, kept his social media dispatch brief: “Today the Supreme Court fulfilled the words engraved upon its building: ‘Equal justice under law.’ ” It was the first sentence of a longer statement issued to the media by his campaign touting the senator’s recording on gay rights issues, including voting against the federal – and now defunct– Defense of Marriage Act.

“For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community, and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people,” Sanders’ statement concluded.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at ajohnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.