Sen. Ted Cruz reaffirmed his opposition to marriage equality Thursday, while arguing that the only way Republicans can win is if they broaden their coalition.
Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Texas Republican and likely 2016 presidential candidate argued that the path for victory is dependent on reassembling the Reagan coalition.
“We bring together fiscal conservatives and social conservatives and national security conservatives. We stand strong for economic growth, but we also stand for life and marriage. We defend the constitutional rights, but we also stand and lead the fight against ISIS and a nuclear Iran,” Cruz said. “We need all three legs of the proverbial Republican stool. Not one leg, not two. But the way we get to 51 percent is we bring together conservatives and libertarians and evangelicals and women and young people and Hispanics and Reagan Democrats.”
Cruz was one of the few speakers on the first day of CPAC to invoke same-sex marriage, an issue that Republicans — particularly those with their eyes on higher office — have been increasingly silent about. During a Q&A session after his speech, Cruz was asked his thoughts on gay marriage by Fox News and radio host Sean Hannity.
“Marriage is a question for the states and it is wrong for the federal government or unelected judges to tear down the marriage laws of the states,” Cruz said.
Cruz has been one of the most vocal opponents of same-sex marriage in the likely field of 2016 contenders. Earlier this month, Cruz reintroduced in Congress the State Marriage Defense Act, which would require the federal government to defer to the marriage laws of the state where a couple resides to determine if the couple is eligible for federal benefits, in effect invalidating for federal purposes the marriages of same-sex families living in the remaining 13 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Cruz’s office has said the senator will introduce a constitutional amendment later this year to “make explicit that marriage is a policy question for the democratically-elected legislatures in each of the 50 states.” Cruz vowed to introduce such an amendment last October, when he lashed out at the Supreme Court for “abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution” by allowing rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in five states to stand, thus legalizing marriage equality in all states covered by the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals.
While Cruz showed no qualms voicing his opposition, others were less inclined to speak about marriage equality.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie only spoke about his opposition to abortion when asked how he might appeal to social conservatives. Although Christie has said he personally opposes same-sex marriage, he ceased fighting a court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, has said he does not believe being gay is a choice and banned “ex-gay therapy” for minors in the state.
CPAC, which is being held from Feb. 25 to 28 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, Md., has sought to take a more inclusive tone compared to past years. Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, will speak on a panel Saturday addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s LGBT human rights abuses. And during an interview earlier this week, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, told Metro Weekly gay conservatives are welcome at the conference. “To be absolutely crystal clear, if you are a conservative who is gay, you should come to CPAC — you are welcome to come to CPAC,” Schlapp said. “We have taken rather historic steps to make it very clear that CPAC is welcoming of all kinds of conservatives, including conservatives who are gay.”