Amid fears the next administration would undermine LGBT rights, President-elect Donald Trump said he’s “fine” with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage and believes it’s settled law.
Calling himself a “supporter” of LGBT people, Trump made the remarks during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night after Leslie Stahl asked him about fears among LGBT people — as well as black people and Muslims — they’d face persecution with him as president.
Asked whether Trump supports marriage equality, Trump said his views are “irrelevant” because the Supreme Court has already rendered a decision on the issue.
“It’s irrelevant because it was already settled,” Trump said. “It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.”
Pressed by Stahl on whether his judicial appointments would reverse the decision, Trump, who previously said he opposes same-sex marriage, said he’s now “fine” with the ruling.
“It’s done,” Trump said. “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m fine with that.”
On the campaign trail, Trump said he doesn’t favor same-sex marriage and urged social conservatives to “trust” him on the issue. Trump also said he’d “strongly consider” appointing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would reverse the decision for marriage equality. However, he said he doesn’t support the idea of a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
In the same interview, Trump took a different approach to his view on Roe v. Wade, saying he’d appoint justices who are pro-life and “if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states.”
Asked by Stahl what would happen if women weren’t able to obtain an abortion, Trump said “they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.”
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.”
If Trump, as he has pledged, appoints conservatives in the mold of the late U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, he would have little capacity to convince the Supreme Court to abstain from reversing its decision on marriage equality. However, the confluence of events needed for the Supreme Court to revisit the issue and undo the ruling are unlikely to happen.
Stahl raised the issue of marriage equality with Trump in the context of questioning about the fears LGBT people feel about his administration. In response, Trump recalled he “mentioned them at the Republican National Convention.”
“Everybody said, ‘That was so great,'” Trump said. “I have been — you know, I’ve been — a supporter.”
During his speech at the Republican National Convention he pledged to protect LGBT people from a foreign ideology, which marked the first time a Republican presidential nominee mentioned LGBT people in a positive way during an acceptance speech. Critics pounced on Trump for making the remarks without supporting LGBT rights.
Evan Wolfson, former president of the now closed LGBT group Freedom to Marry, said he’s “pleased to hear” Trump is “fine” with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and believes the issue is settled law.
“This is one of many chances he has — and must take — to show the American people that he has credibility and that the administration he is assembling and actions they are preparing are not a threat to their families, their rights, and their place in this country,” Wolfson said. “Today he said the right thing, but actions speak louder than words — and as I wrote to Freedom to Marry’s supporters earlier this week, we must be as vigilant on this and the many other grave concerns his candidacy raised as we were in our successful and long work to win the freedom to marry in the court of public opinion and then the law.”
Wolfson added the “true test of his integrity in this answer” will be Trump’s appointments to the judiciary and the president-elect’s refusal to “greenlight efforts by any in his administration to carve licenses to discriminate into the law he today says he respects.”