Although neither candidate supports marriage equality, today's decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Perry v. Brown striking down California's Proposition 8 gave the campaign of President Obama and his most likely general election challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), a chance to spar a bit on LGBT equality issues.
Although White House press secretary Jay Carney initially said, "I'm not going to comment on litigation -- and particularly, as here, where we are not a party to it," at today's press briefing, he continued, "[T]he president's position on these issues, writ large, are well known. He's long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples."
Asked if it is inconsistent for Obama to take such a position on a measure that relates to marriage when Obama is "evolving" on but does not support marriage equality, Carney said that he had "no update" as to the president's views on marriage equality.
Carney added, though, that in this situation, "These are proactive, deliberate efforts to deny benefits and to be discriminatory."
Romney, to put it gently, disagreed.
In a statement, he said, "Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values.
Of the presidential implications, Romney added, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices."
To that, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt tweeted, "Romney, who said he'd do more for gay rights than Sen. [Edward] Kennedy, condemned the court decision overturning divisive & discriminatory Prop 8."
Kennedy, who died in August 2009, had been a strong supporter of marriage equality. In 2006, while successfully opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment -- which Romney supports -- Kennedy said, "It is wrong for our civil laws to deny any American the basic right to be part of a family, to have loved ones with whom to build a secure future and share life's joys and tears, and to be free from the stain of bigotry and discrimination."
Romney's opponents for the Republican presidential nomination who are more to the right of him on LGBT equality issues, unsurprisingly, opposed today's ruling. On Twitter, both former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) criticized the ruling.
Later, Santorum tweeted, "7M Californians had their rights stripped away today by activist 9th Circuit judges. As president I will work to protect marriage."
It did not appear that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) issued any statement on the ruling.