If you’re a Republican running for president, prepare yourself. The next reporter who corners you at a diner might pop the question. No, she doesn’t want to marry you. But she might ask whether you’d attend a gay wedding. In the last week, that question has been posed to at least five candidates: Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Govs. Scott Walker and John Kasich, and former Sen. Rick Santorum. In general, their answers have been weak. Here’s what they’ve said, and how you can handle the question better than they did.
When Hewitt posed the same question to Santorum on Thursday, the former senator flatly said no:
Q: Would you, Rick Santorum, attend a same-sex wedding of a loved one or a family friend or anyone who you were close to?
A: No, I would not.
Q: Well, why not?
A: Because ... as a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them, but I would not participate in that ceremony.
Santorum gets points for candor. And he draws the approved Christian distinction between loving and condoning. But for listeners who have gay friends or family, Santorum seems to offer nothing. Compare his answer with this one, delivered by Walker on Saturday night:
Q: Would you attend a gay wedding?
A: Well, in terms of—that’s certainly a personal issue. For a family member, Tonette and I and our family already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been at a wedding. But that’s true even though my position on marriage is still that it’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception.
Doesn’t that sound better? Substantively, Walker gives no more ground than Santorum does. He opposes legal recognition of same-sex marriage, he’s never attended a gay wedding, and he isn’t saying he ever would. But for people who disagree with him, he can say—and does say—that he’s been to a reception. Apparently he’s referring to his wife’s cousin, who married another woman last year. According to the New York Times, “The governor was away on business when the wedding occurred, but he later attended a reception for the newlyweds.”
See how nicely that works out? Schedule your travel to miss the wedding but make the reception. Then you can sound like a decent guy without losing support on the religious right.