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Republican Presidential Candidates Split Over What to Do About Gay Marriage

White House
The White House is illuminated in rainbow colors after today's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Washington June 26, 2015. |

Republican presidential candidates and those expected to be candidates are divided in their reactions to the last Friday's U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling, with some ready to continue fighting for marriage and others suggesting it is time for conservatives to "move on" from the marriage issue and begin focusing on other concerns.

While appearing on CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday, potential 2016 Republican candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich argued that there are many other issues facing America right now and it is time to pay attention to those concerns.

He asserted that since the Supreme Court has issued a nationwide ruling — that denying same-sex couples the right to get married is unconstitutional — it is time for the country to stop focusing on the subject.

"I do believe in traditional marriage and the court has ruled and it's time to move on," the 63-year-old Kasich stated. "[There's] so many other things now that we have to focus on."

Kasich, who was cited as an original defendant in the initial same-sex marriage lawsuit brought by Jim Obergefell against the state of Ohio, stressed that religious institutions must be respected.

"I think everybody needs to take a deep breath to see how this evolves," Kasich said. "But I know this — religious institutions, religious entities, like the Catholic Church, they need to be honored as well. I think there's an ability to strike a balance."

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued bolder reactions that call for the creation of a constitutional amendment to protect the sovereignty of state governments to define their own marriage laws.

"I've introduced a constitutional amendment that would protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We should pass that amendment," Cruz told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Friday. "I've also introduced legislation stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal assault on marriage."

In a Friday statement, Walker called the Supreme Court's decision a "grave mistake."

"Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges 'has been with us for millennia,'" Walker argued. "[T]he only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage."

In a National Review editorial Cruz criticized the "lawless" Supreme Court and the rise of "judicial activism." He stated that he is proposing a Constitutional amendment that would create Supreme Court elections, in which justices would be subject to retention elections every eight years, rather than being appointed to lifetime terms.

"Those justices deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the American people as a whole and by majorities of the electorates in at least half of the 50 states will be removed from office and disqualified from future service on the Court," Cruz wrote.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said on "Meet the Press" he would not "engage" in the constitutional amendment process. He told people to "accept the court's ruling," but continue to "fight for the religious liberties of every American."

Other candidates like Dr. Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are saying that the Supreme Court ruling should be treated as law. Carson suggested that although he strongly disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision, their ruling "is now the law of the land." Rubio asserted that even though he also believes in traditional marriage, "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."

Rather than abiding by the law, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is also a Southern Baptist minister, is calling for "civil disobedience" over same-sex marriage.

"I don't think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice," Huckabee said on ABC's "This Week." "They either are going to follow God, their conscience, and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them or they will follow civil law."

"If they have a conscientious objection, I think they should be excused," he added.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul issued, arguably, the most unique statement of any of the GOP presidential candidates in an op-ed for Time, where he suggested that maybe "the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party."

"Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do — taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government's involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right," Paul contended. "So now, states such as Alabama are beginning to understand this as they begin to get out of the marriage licensing business altogether. Will others follow?"

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a statement that states should have been able to decide their own marriage laws, but since the court has ruled, he stated that now it is the time to ensure that religious liberties are protected.

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