POLITICS
01/05/2015 10:45 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

Jeb Bush: Marriage Equality Should Be A 'State Decision'

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Sunday he's disappointed by a court's recent decision to allow marriage equality in the state.

"It ought be a local decision. I mean, a state decision," Bush told the Miami Herald. "The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess."

Same-sex marriages in Florida are set to begin Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle first declared the ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional in August, and in mid-December, the Supreme Court declined to intervene. On Jan. 1, Hinkle clarified his ruling, saying it applied to every county in the state.

Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage in 2008.

In a 2013 interview, Bush also said he believed same-sex marriage should "be a state-by-state issue."

Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Bush's recent comments were "disappointing."

"It's disappointing to see that Jeb Bush has the same opinion of marriage equality as the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton," Angelo told The Huffington Post. "Jeb had a chance to differentiate himself from her, and at the very least say that, in Florida, marriage equality is settled law and there are more pressing issues demanding attention. As it stands, Jeb tacks the same line as Hillary: that marriage is something that should be left to the states."

During an interview in June with NPR's Terry Gross, Clinton repeatedly said that for her, marriage had always been "a matter left to the states" but never clarified whether she believes same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.

But unlike Clinton, Bush has not come out in favor of marriage equality. Clinton announced her evolution in March 2013.

In 2012, Bush offered some support for individuals in same-sex relationships, but he ultimately backed "traditional marriage."

"I don't think people need to be discriminated against because they don't share my belief on this, and if people love their children with all their heart and soul and that's what they do and that's how they organize their life, that should be held up as examples for others to follow because we need it," Bush said. "We desperately need it and that can take all sorts of forms, it doesn't have to take the one that I think should be sanctioned under the law."

Bush recently resigned from all his corporate and nonprofit board positions ahead of a possible 2016 presidential bid.

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- In a statement to The New York Times Monday, Bush acknowledged that marriage equality was now the law of the land in many places and seemed to express little appetite for working to repeal it.

"We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law," he said. "I hope that we can 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."

UPDATE: 8:10 p.m. -- In a 1994 oped in the Miami Herald, dug up by BuzzFeed, Bush argued against providing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals equal legal protections, writing, "[Should] sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No."

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Bush would no longer use that language: "Gov. Bush believes that our society should have a culture of respect for all people, regardless of their differences, and that begins with preventing discrimination, including when it comes to sexual orientation. This opinion editorial from 20 years ago does not reflect Gov. Bush’s views now, nor would he use this terminology today."

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