May 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Boehner: States ‘well-equipped’ to handle marriage issue

John Boehner, ENDA, United States House of Representatives, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

House Speaker John Boehner said states are “well-equipped” to handle the marriage issue. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key).

In the week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether to make a nationwide ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said states are “well-equipped” to handle the marriage issue on their own terms.

An opponent of same-sex marriage, Boehner made the remarks during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that took place on Friday and aired Sunday. The moderator asked Boehner whether he could imagine gaveling into the 2016 Republican National Convention a party platform that includes an anti-gay marriage plank if the court rules for same-sex nuptials.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen at the Republican convention,” Boehner said. “But listen, I believe in traditional marriage, but I also respect the views of others. I’ll let the court make their decision but at the end of the day the states are well equipped to deal with this. They’ve been dealing with it, and they should continue dealing with it.”

Last month, a total of 57 congressional Republicans — 51 U.S. House members and six U.S. senators — signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. Boehner’s name was absent from the list.

Asked by Todd why his name was absent, Boehner said he wasn’t asked to sign the brief, but had that happened “probably would have signed on.”

Boehner’s remarks on “Meet the Press” are different from what he told the Washington Blade during a news conference in February after the Supreme Court agreed to take up the marriage cases. The speaker has consistently maintained the court will be arbiter on the issue, but at that time said he doesn’t anticipate House Republicans would weigh in on the litigation and made no reference to the states’ role on marriage.

“I don’t expect that we’re going to weigh in on this,” Boehner said at time. “The court will make its decision and that’s why they’re there, to be the highest court in the land.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said he doesn’t believe Boehner is being inconsistent with his remarks.

“It may be splitting hairs, but I believe the Speaker was referring to an official ‘House GOP Caucus’ amicus brief, which was never filed, so he’s not being inconsistent,” Angelo said. “Individual members — like Speaker Boehner — clearly have individual opinions on the marriage issue, as evidenced by the House Republican members who lent their names to amicus briefs both against and in favor of marriage equality.”

A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether same-sex couples have a constitution right to marry across the nation is expected by the end of June.

Watch the interview here. The marriage remarks begin at 3:20.

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

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