The Corner

Politics & Policy

President Trump and Same-Sex Marriage

(Joshua Robert/Reuters)

My latest article for the magazine, on social conservatives’ strength inside the Republican party and weakness outside it, observes in passing that President Trump incurs lower political costs for socially conservative policies than other Republicans do. Those policies don’t reinforce an image of him as a theocratic zealot because absolutely nobody holds that image. Along with the general crush of news during this presidency, that helps explain why the president’s new initiative stripping some federal funding from Planned Parenthood, which would have been a huge story under, say, President Jeb Bush, hasn’t even been discussed on any of the Sunday shows since it was announced.

Indeed, Trump can take socially conservative positions in public while many people remain in the dark about it, both because they don’t associate him with those positions and because he does not always maintain a consistent message on them.

So it is with Trump and same-sex marriage. My article mentions that he declared himself against it during the campaign, and a few people have expressed incredulity over this point. But it is true.

Asked about the topic in June 2015, Trump told Jake Tapper he was for “traditional marriage.” A few weeks later, after the Supreme Court held that all states had to recognize same-sex marriage, Trump told Howard Kurtz he would have preferred for the Court to have left states to make their own decisions but suggested that overturning the ruling was not a priority. He told The Hollywood Reporter it was a “dead issue.” But in January 2016, before the Iowa caucuses, he told Chris Wallace that he would “strongly consider” appointing justices who would overturn the ruling.

After winning the November 2016 election he said that whether he supported or opposed same-sex marriage was “irrelevant” because the Supreme Court had made its ruling, adding, “I’m fine with that.”

Everything he said during the campaign and even afterward was consistent with opposing same-sex marriage but not caring much about the topic. He rarely talked about the issue; as far as I know, his last word on it during the campaign was his comment to Chris Wallace about “seriously considering” making nominations to the Supreme Court partly on the basis of that opposition.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

O’Rourke’s America

With apologies to Margaret Atwood and a thousand other dystopian novelists, we do not have to theorize about what an American police state would look like, because we know what it looks like: the airport, that familiar totalitarian environment where Americans are disarmed, stripped of their privacy, divested of ... Read More
World

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More
World

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More
Sports

LeBron James Looks Like a Fraud

So, LeBron James claimed that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was simply “misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at ... Read More