After months of letting gullible reporters believe that he’s willing to soften the GOP’s fierce opposition to marriage equality, Jeb Bush has finally revealed his true colors. Unsurprisingly, they’re pretty homophobic.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bush made it clear that not only does not he support marriage equality, but he also believes that opponents can choose to ignore nondiscrimination laws if they so choose.
“A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs,” Bush said. “This should not be that complicated. Gosh, it is right now.”
Of course, what makes it complicated is people choosing to ignore laws. As a reminder, Bush was quick to embrace Indiana’s right-to-discriminate law.
Bush also made it clear that he did not believe that there was a constitutional basis for marriage equality and tried to justify his belief by pointing to Democrats.
“What’s interesting is four years ago, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had the same view that I just expressed to you,” he said. “Thousands of years of culture and history is just being changed at warp speed. It’s hard to fathom why it is this way.”
The interview was just about as bad as you can imagine. That Bush gave it to the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by the incomparable Pat Robertson, is a tip off that Bush is committed to courting the religious right base to win the nomination. He used all the best rhetoric from the 1990s to make his case.
“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, committed child-centered family system, is hard to imagine,” Bush argued. “We need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”
Bush is a convert to Catholicism and is pushing the John Paul II/Benedict line even as the Pope Francis is softening it. He apparently wants to outdo Rick Santorum in his appeal to conservative evangelicals.
The interview is a sign of just how out of touch Bush is with the general electorate. Polls consistently show a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Bush sounds like a throwback to his father’s era. At the same time, the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is sending a letter of support to a young lesbian couple. The interview is also a reminder of his brother’s willingness to use marriage equality as a wedge issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. Apparently, the Bush brothers don’t have a problem making us political scapegoats.
One question that is unanswered by Bush’s interview is whether his gay enablers will stick with him. Ken Mehlman, the former Republican party chair who has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality, was shepherding Bush around to big donors. It will be interesting to see if whether Bush’s true colors will have any impact on Mehlman, or if politics will trump principle.