March 23, 2015 at 12:27 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Ted Cruz announces presidential bid

Ted Cruz, United States Senate, Republican Party, Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday announced he is running for president. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday formally announced he is running for president.

“It’s going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again,” said the conservative firebrand in 30 second video he posted to his Twitter page shortly after midnight. “I’m ready to stand with you to lead the fight.”

The conservative firebrand later in the day discussed his presidential aspirations during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Cruz, 44, broadly reiterated his vocal opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage,” he said.

Cruz during his speech also accused the federal government of waging an “assault on our religious liberty.”

“Imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American,” he said.

’I’m a constitutionalist’

The Canadian-born Cruz is the first candidate from either party to formally declare their presidential aspirations.

The Texas Republican last October said he still plans to introduce a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban judges from overturning state marriage laws.

“I’m a constitutionalist,” Cruz told the Washington Blade in January after President Obama’s State of the Union address. “From the beginning of this country, marriage has been a question of the states, and we should not have the federal government, or unelected judges, setting aside the policy judgment of the elected legislatures and imposing their own instead.”

Cruz last month reintroduced his bill that would block the federal government from recognizing the marriages of gays and lesbians who live in states that have yet to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The conservative firebrand during this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference was among those who repeatedly highlighted his opposition to gay nuptials.

Cruz last week introduced a resolution alongside U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) that urges Congress to kill the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 that would protect LGBT students from discrimination at religious schools in D.C. The two Republican senators also introduced a separate resolution that urges federal lawmakers to strike down another D.C. law that bans employers in the nation’s capital from discriminating against employees based on their decision to have an abortion and undergo other reproductive health procedures.

“The purpose of the Constitution is, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government,” said Cruz during his Liberty University speech.

Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, on Sunday told the Washington Blade he was not surprised to learn that Cruz will run for president.

“It’s long been known that Cruz would be pursuing the presidency,” said Angelo. “Considering the transparency of his ambitions, it’s no surprise he’s the first of the GOP field to make it official.”

John Fluharty, the openly gay executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, also weighed in on Cruz’s announcement and the senator’s decision to highlight his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in his Liberty University speech.

“The reality is that the Republican Party rank-and-file are supporting marriage equality in numbers and ways that show the party is headed in a ‘pro-freedom’ direction,” Fluharty told the Blade. “The issues of job creation, growing the economy and reforming education are important to all families and we win when we focus on these issues and don’t cloud the discussion.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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