WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) really doesn't want to talk about gay marriage.
During his weekly briefing on Thursday, Boehner was asked several questions about his views on the issue, ranging from whether he considers marriage equality a civil rights issue to how much of a role he thinks the issue should play in campaigns. And every time, he had the same answer.
(Video from the briefing above)
"I'm going to stay focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on, and that's jobs," he said.
Boehner said that he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman, but beyond that, he said he doesn't want to get into it.
"The president and the Democrats can talk about this all they want," he said. "But the fact, is, the American people are focused on the economy and they're asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?'"
Boehner may need to get used to the issue coming up, though, since Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney plans to campaign on it.
Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney's presidential campaign, told Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" that Romney will not only make President Barack Obama's support for marriage equality a campaign issue, but he will also call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
"Sure," Gillespie said Thursday when asked if Romney will campaign on the issue. "I think it’s an important issue for people and, you know, it engenders strong feelings on both sides. I think it’s important to be respectful in how we talk about our differences, but the fact is that’s a significant difference in November."
Same-sex marriage "will be another bright-line difference in this campaign," he said.
Asked if Romney will actively push for a constitutional amendment, Gillespie said his view is that a federal marriage amendment "should be enacted." He echoed Boehner in adding, however, that most people want to talk about jobs and the economy.
Boehner demurred when asked if he agreed with Romney's plan to campaign on gay marriage.
"I'm going to stay focused on jobs," he said.
The reality, though, is that Boehner is quietly staying involved in matters relating to same-sex marriage. Just this week, House Republican leaders intervened in a lawsuit to defend provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act that prevent bi-national, same-sex couples from being together. Boehner signed on to defend DOMA in court after the Obama administration announced in February 2011 that it found the law to be unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court. Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hired outside counsel to defend it to the tune of $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars.
Other House Republicans have also been taking actions this week to stem progress on gay marriage. The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday passed a measure banning same-sex marriages from taking place on military bases. The House also voted Wednesday night to amend an appropriations bill to prevent the administration from spending any funds that would interfere with DOMA.
Boehner passed off those actions as being driven by individual GOP lawmakers, not by him.
"Well, you know, we've got a lot of members who have ideas about what's important to them and we see those items advance here every day," he said. "The American people are concerned about our economy. They're concerned about jobs."
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