Jeb Bush Launches Campaign Days Before SCOTUS Ruling on Marriage Equality: Where Does He Stand?

WASHINGTON – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his long-expected campaign launch official today, entering the race just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is widely expected to issue its ruling in Obergefell v Hodges -- a case that could lead to nationwide marriage equality. During the lead-up to his campaign launch, Bush has expressed support for “traditional marriage,” and has pointedly refused to say if he would consider a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality final and decline efforts to reverse it.

“Given that he’s launching his campaign on the cusp of this historic Supreme Court decision, Gov. Bush should explain to the six-in-ten voters who support marriage equality whether he would consider a ruling final,” said JoDee Winterhof, Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “If Jeb Bush continues to duck a simple question about the Supreme Court and refuses to say if he will appoint judges who are committed to ensuring LGBT people have the same rights as everyone else, he’s putting himself at odds with the majority of Americans he hopes to ‘lead.’”

Background:

Bush Does Not Believe the Constitution Grants Right to Same-Sex Marriage. Reuters reported that “Republican Jeb Bush said in a weekend radio interview that he does not believe the Constitution grants a right to gay marriage, emphasizing his support for ‘traditional marriage.’ The Supreme Court is expected by the end of June to make a landmark ruling that could make gay marriage the law of the land or return the decision to individual states. ‘It's at the core of the Catholic faith and to imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, (a) committed child-centered family system, is hard to imagine, Bush told the Christian Broadcasting Network show, ‘The Brody File,’ in an interview broadcast on Sunday. ‘So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling because they are going to decide whatever they decide - I don’t know what they are going to do - we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage,’ said Bush, who converted to Catholicism 20 years ago.” [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

Highlights on Jeb Bush’s LGBT Record:

As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush consistently opposed marriage equality for LGBT Americans. And he showed a willingness to appoint staff and contribute money to causes that had strong anti-equality agendas. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Marriage: As governor, Bush said he believed marriage was between “one man” and “one woman” and eventually supported amending Florida’s constitution to oppose same-sex marriage. Under Bush, the Florida Republican Party spent thousands on the amendment. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Discrimination: When asked by a potential LGBT employee about his policy on hiring LGBT people, Bush suggested the employee should stay closeted. He has a history of opposing protections for LGBT Americans as “special legal rights,” and while he now says he believes in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, he has not said whether he supports ENDA. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Executive Order: Unclear  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Conversion Therapy: Unclear  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

HarmfulRhetoric: Bush called marriage and partner benefits for LGBT Americans “special rights.”  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Adoption: Bush opposed allowing LGBT couples to adopt as governor. After it was made legal through a court decision, Bush said he respected the decision. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Anti-bullying: Set up commission on bullying. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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