May 4, 2016 at 6:45 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Kasich drops 2016 bid after seeking middle ground on LGBT rights
John Kasich, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) has dropped his presidential bid. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who gained a reputation for seeking a middle ground on LGBT rights over the course of his presidential campaign, suspended his bid for the White House on Wednesday.

Appearing to restrain emotion as he spoke, the candidate declared to supporters in Columbus, Ohio he would end his campaign. Over the Republican primary, Kasich won only his home state of Ohio in the Republican primary and had an abysmal showing in the neighboring state of Indiana.

“I have always said the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone,” Kasich said. “As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life.”

His departure means Donald Trump is the only candidate left standing in the Republican field, making the real estate magnate without a doubt the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Although Kasich continued to oppose same-sex marriage, he talked about his experience attending a same-sex wedding in Ohio and said he’s “not changing” any laws on marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against state bans on gay nuptials nationwide.

Kasich was one of the few Republican candidates who declined to support the First Amendment Defense Act, federal “religious freedom” legislation seen to enable to anti-LGBT discrimination. The candidate also said he “wouldn’t have signed” the controversial House Bill 2 in North Carolina, which prohibits cities from enacting pro-LGBT ordinances and bars transgender people from using certain restrooms consistent with the gender identity.

Amid concern among conservatives over business owned facing penalties under state civil rights laws for declining services to LGBT people, Kasich tried to strike a middle ground, saying business owners shouldn’t discriminate, but LGBT people for the time being should “just for a second get over it” until discontent dies down.

In contrast, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision against same-sex marriage nationwide and Trump has indicated he’d appoint justices to the court who would reverse the ruling.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, commended Kasich for his approach to LGBT rights over the course of his presidential campaign.

“Gov. Kasich’s presidential pursuit in 2016 may be over, but he remains a man of integrity who leaves a legacy of changing the rhetoric around equality and marriage in Republican presidential politics,” Angelo said. “From his unabashed admission to attending a same-sex wedding in the first Republican presidential debate to the enduring brash compassion he continually exhibited to the LGBT community on the campaign trail, Gov. Kasich deserves credit for setting a GOP tone on LGBT issues that allowed him to endure long after 15 of his competitors did not.”

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

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