February 27, 2015 at 3:48 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Jeb Bush: ‘I believe in traditional marriage’
Jeb Bush, Florida, gay news, Washington Blade, CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican Party

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) says he backs “traditional marriage.” (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Despite a perception that he’s the most LGBT-friendly Republican in the field of potential presidential candidates, Jeb Bush said Friday he remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

On stage at the second day of the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, Bush was asked if his views had changed on same-sex marriage by conservative commentator Sean Hannity. The former Florida governor was succinct in his reply: “No. I believe in traditional marriage.”

The potential candidate — who once backed the efforts of his brother, former President George W. Bush, to pass a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country — made the comments before a conservative audience as he tried to play down his support for immigration reform and federal education standards under Common Core.

Media outlets, including the Washington Blade, have speculated Bush is taking a more LGBT-inclusive approach to his campaign compared to other Republicans. Upon news that marriage equality would soon come to Florida, Bush issued a statement that called for respect of the rule of law, but also religious liberty.

Bush has hired Tim Miller, a gay Republican communications specialist, as his point person for the press in his planned presidential campaign. According to a recent report in Buzzfeed, other members of Bush’s team include David Kochel, an Iowa Republican strategist who’s urged the party to become more pro-LGBT, and Mike Murphy, a GOP strategist who was among 113 Republicans that signed a legal brief before the Supreme Court against California’s Proposition 8.

In fact, the Buzzfeed article suggests Bush may have private evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage, quoting anonymous sources as saying they’ve come away with the impression “that on the question of marriage equality, he was supportive at best and agnostic at worst.”

But Bush’s potential campaign also showed signs of allegiance to anti-gay forces. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush was set to meet this week with Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.

Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement a truly LGBT-inclusive candidate would support causes that benefit LGBT people like marriage equality.

“At the end of the day, it isn’t rhetoric or hiring practices that count, it’s what a candidate stands for,” Sainz said. “A candidate who is truly committed to LGBT equality will support marriage equality and support protecting all LGBT Americans from discrimination. While the tone of Jeb Bush’s language and word choice may have changed, he hasn’t yet articulated different policies from when he opposed marriage equality and opposed discrimination protections as governor. There are more questions than answers on where Bush stands today.”

Bush wasn’t the only potential Republican presidential candidate to voice on stage to same-sex marriage; Hannity asked that question to each of major speakers he interviewed on stage throughout the conference.

On Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said reiterated his well-known opposition to same-sex marriage, blasting “unelected judges” for overturning state prohibitions on gay nuptials. On the same day Bush spoke, Sen. March Rubio (R-Fla.) said his belief is marriage “is between one man and one woman.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

14 Comments
  • Why do people, especially journalists, keep leaving out the fact that Jeb Bush also opposes civil unions?

  • I think his new Communications Director, Tim Miller, has a messaging problem on his hands or…
    … Tim's working and supporting a person who's against his own Civil Rights.

  • By "traditional marriage" he means "Common types of marriage between year 1955 and 1967, in some parts of the American Southeast, among mostly white people." Meanwhile, TRADITIONAL marriage was and still is an economic transaction between two or more men regarding how much any specific little girl is worth, if anything.

  • Bye Bye Jeb, you have fallen into the discriminatory ways of the GOP.

  • How many Bushes have to mess up our country before people realize there is something wrong with this bunch?

  • So 'traditional marriage' must be the "right message" Jeb's new gay communications director was referring to not long ago?
    ˙
    The racist bigots defending poll taxes and literacy tests to exclude African American voters in the old South would likely think their defense of "traditional voting" was as legitimate as Jeb's anti-gay bigotry is today.
    ˙
    Like his father and brother before him, Jeb is just another 'kinder and gentler' anti-LGBT hate monger.

  • In tradition marriage where the husband can be unfaithful to his wife with the housekeeper as I did LOL

  • I want to see him stand in front of Vivian Boyack and Alice ‘Dubes who recently got married in Iowa after being together for 72 years.. Look them in the eyes and tell them he dose not believe they have the right to be married.

    I'm reminded of the 2012 GOP debates, when a video was played of a gay solider asking the GOP candidates that under their presidency would they repel the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. The audience booed the video, and no one on stage addressed the boos. All of a sudden "Support our troops" was no longer a favorite slogan. The next day in response, Obama put out a statement "You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient."

    This man make my stomach hurt.

  • The next President of the United States will be Pro-Marriage Equality. If the Republican candidate is Anti-gay Marriage, Republicans will Loose the White House, AGAIN, AGAIN and AGAIN

  • What Bush should say, is: "I believe in Traditional Marriage myself, thats the kind that I have, and as far as my Religious Beliefs go…I agree that Traditional Marriage is the right direction….for me, but everyone is not the same, everyone is not me…..some people are gay Americans and they deserve just as much as Str8 Americans to participate in the American experience….they deserve, just as straight couples, the protections of a legal marriage even if I don't and you don't believe that is the best thing for us.

  • I disagree, Jack. There is no reason to legitimize homophobic use of an adjective used to mask an injurious discrimination against gay or same sex couples wishing to marry.
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    In this often-used bit of gay-bashing, *traditional marriage* is used as a more civilized short-hand substitute for *marriage excluding gays*– or probably more likely, *homophobic, straights-only marriage*.
    ˙
    A description like "traditional* is used by duplicitous politicians to coverup and legitimize for civilized debate, intentional, discriminatory policy motivated by animus. After all, debating "discriminatory policy motivated by animus"– that makes for an entirely different and more truthful consideration of the issue. Doesn't it?
    ˙
    Can poll taxes or literacy tests be termed *traditional voting* requirements?
    Can the segregated schools of the old South be termed *traditional education*?
    Can the lynchings of African Americans (many in the past 100 years, btw) be called, *traditional justice* or *traditional capital punishment*?
    ˙
    Worse still, Jeb Bush's use of the term, intentionally denies and challenges the constitutional right for same sex couples that has already been found by the overwhelming majority of federal and state judges around the country.
    ˙
    There is no way to finesse it, or to spin it. And going forward, there is no way to cover up that Jeb Bush homophobic hypocrisy.
    ˙
    Let's call out all other marriage equality opponents… for ALL their lies and subtle deceptions.
    ˙

  • And I believe in Hillary Clinton and in the Democratic Party….

  • That's great Jeb..that's is your personal belief, but that does not give you the right to impose your personal beliefs on the rest of the country who disagree with you..keep it up..you will not get to sit behind the desk in the oval office..except maybe in your dreams!

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