GOP candidate Newt Gingrich again made it clear this week that a gay’s right to marry a same-sex partner is not his issue, but it is still unclear whether the former House Speaker is defending marriage on the grounds of religious freedom.
When Scott Arnold, an associate professor of writing at William Penn University and a homosexual, approached Gingrich Dec. 20 and asked the former Speaker how gay Americans could support him in his bid for the presidency, he got a rather blunt answer: perhaps they shouldn’t.
Gingrich followed up by saying: “I think those for whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won't get their support. I accept that as reality.”
“On the other hand, for those to whom it's not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I'll get their support."
The Gingrich campaign did not respond before publication to calls from The Christian Post on whether his comments intend to support religious freedoms claimed by many Christians who oppose same sex marriage on biblical ground. But defenders of traditional marriage have these previous data points to consider:
• In 2002 Gingrich did an interview with Time Magazine in which he was asked if gays should be allowed to visit partners in a hospital, adopt children and enjoy other privileges granted to married couples. His answer: “There are a lot of practical relationships that we ought to find a way to accommodate. If your partner ends up in the hospital, there ought to be some ability to visit that partner. But I'm not in favor of creating the notion of gay marriage or gay adoption.”
• In 2008 Gingrich campaigned for California’s Proposition 8, which sought to define marriage as between a man and woman. Gingrich released a video encouraging citizens to vote, saying that the American people decide the values of society and not the courts
• In 2010 he did an interview with Right Wing News in which he was asked if he would support a constitutional amendment concerning marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act: “Well, I think that the question is whether or not the Congress could pass a law which protected marriage or whether because of states' rights Congress does not have the ability to then enforce that without a Constitutional Amendment. I certainly think that we have every right to defend traditional marriage...whether it's by passing a law or a constitutional amendment. Given what the judges in Massachusetts did, they in effect single handedly by judicial fiat began to change what had been several thousand years of tradition and history. I think it's a profound mistake for judges to engage in social engineering.”
• In 2011 Gingrich noted in the Presidential debate in New Hampshire that he would support the reinstatement of the military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if the military commanders wanted it;
• In 2011 upon hearing that the Obama administration would not defend DOMA, he encouraged the GOP led House to pass a resolution telling the President to do his job;
• In early fall of 2011 Gingrich participated in the Palmetto Freedom Forum and spoke about his desire to support traditional marriage, even if that included a constitutional amendment, coming as close as he has to the religious freedom argument: “I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I do believe and we have every right to defend a 3,000-year clear record that that's what marriage is. And I don't think we should be intimidated against it.”
• On the campaign trail in Iowa in 2011, he described gay marriage as “a temporary aberration that will dissipate” and that he thinks gay marriage “fundamentally goes against everything we know.”
• In December 2011 Gingrich signed a pledge from the anti-gay marriage group titled National Organization for Marriage and vowed to uphold traditional marriage values. He also told the Des Moines Register that he believes homosexuality is both biological and a choice. He denounced the gay right’s activists framing of the homosexual agenda as parallel to that of the civil rights movement:
According to the Register: “Gingrich said it is offensive to compare the two movements and that there is an enormous difference between “an inescapable fact of race” and same-sex marriage. Upon further questioning he said he believes people are gay out of a combination of genetics and environment.” The former speaker continued in the interview and said “people have many choices within genetic patterns.”
So far, Gingrich seems unfazed by the complaints coming from the gay-rights camp.