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Current Republican presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio (R-FL) (2nd L), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), walk with U.S. Representative Connie Mack (R-FL) and then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after a campaign speech in Tampa, Florida October 31, 2012. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio both weighed in on a June 26, 2015 decision by the Supreme Court that effectively legalized gay marriage in all 50 U.S. States. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects same-sex couples’ right to marry. Presidential candidates vying for both the Democratic and Republican nominations reacted differently to the announcement. Democrats welcomed the decision and pressed for more LGBT equality. Republicans lamented the ruling, but offered both rhetorically and substantively diverse opinions on why they disapproved of the ruling and what it meant for conservatives. Some wanted to change the ruling, some wanted to change the bench and others pivoted to related social issues under the banner of religious freedom.

Candidates on both sides of the aisle projected not just the views of their parties, but the subtle differences within them as well. Democratic and Republican Candidates expounded the party line while silently jockeying for support among their party base. Hillary Clinton has been criticised for not supporting marriage equality early or urgently enough, leading to what some call a “Gay Marriage Problem.” Sometimes it’s gotten tense. In 2007, Hillary Clinton saying through a spokesman that “she still affirms the general principle of DOMA that marriage should be left up to each state."

Republican Presidential Candidates

Most Republican candidates sounded off in opposition to the ruling, but varied greatly in the way that they did it. Most thought that same-sex marriage should have been decided by the states, and used the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to what they describe as traditional marriage.

“Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side,” Jeb Bush said in a statement.

Some candidates, especially Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), went out of their way to avoid the appearance of bigotry against same sex couples. If Jeb Bush’s “love our neighbor” comment was a subtle dog whistle to social moderates in the Republican base, Marco Rubio’s call was slightly more explicit.

"I believe that marriage [...] should be between one man and one woman" and that "This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years." "I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being," Rubio said in his statement (emphasis mine).

Anger at the use of the judicial branch -- instead the legislative -- to allow same-sex marriage was a common thread in Republican reactions to the Supreme Court decision.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vowed to pack the court with conservative judges, implying that the ruling could be overturned in the future with a strict interpretation of the 10th Amendment. ('The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.')

“I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” he said. “Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was one of the few Republican candidates to call for a reversal of the decision though a constitutional amendment, Politico reported on Friday.

“As a result of [the Supreme Court] decision, the 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,” Walker said in the statement.

Democratic Presidential Candidates

“From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the courage and determination of the LGBT community has changed hearts and changed laws. [This ruling] reflects the will of the vast and growing multitude of Americans who believe that LGBT couples deserve to be recognized under the law and treated equally in the eyes of society. And it represents our country at its best: inclusive, open, and striving towards true equality,” Hillary Clinton said, in a her statement.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) issued a similar statement.

“Today the Supreme Court fulfilled the words engraved upon its building: ‘Equal justice under law.’ This decision is a victory for same-sex couples across our country as well as all those seeking to live in a nation where every citizen is afforded equal rights. For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people,” Bernie Sanders said in a statement.

There was one major difference though; at the end of the message, Sanders pointed out in his support for full marriage equality, mentioning that he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is desperately trying to gain traction against Hillary Clinton's campaign, celebrated the decision in multiple tweets...

.... with a link to email capture.

The Next Fight? “Discrimination” Vs. “Religious Freedom”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham disagreed with Walker’s proposal, calling a constitutional amendment impractical. Like many Republicans who commented on the Supreme Court’s ruling, Graham pivoted away from the marriage question to the issue of religious rights.

“Rather than pursuing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans. No person of faith should ever be forced by the federal government to take action that goes against his or her conscience or the tenets of their religion. As president, I would staunchly defend religious liberty [...],” Graham said in a statement.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges goes out of it’s way to recognize religious liberty under the First Amendment, saying that “it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” However, many social conservatives are concerned about the potential for religious people to be compelled to act against their beliefs. This next level in the LGBT rights debate was reflected in presidential hopeful’s announcements as well.

Compare Marco Rubio’s emphasis on First Amendment rights...

"The next president [...] must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage [....] Elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience," Rubio said in a statement.

... and Jeb Bush’s use of the word “discrimination” (is he talking about LGBT rights, religious freedom, or both?)...

“It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate,” Jeb Bush wrote.

... to Hillary Clinton’s drive to end both discrimination and prejudice in marriage and the workplace.

“While we celebrate today, our work won’t be finished until every American can not only marry, but live, work, pray, learn and raise a family free from discrimination and prejudice,” Hillary’s statement said.

Can religious people descriminate against LGBTs in the workplace? Must a wedding photographer serve at a gay wedding, even if they oppose the union? The question of gay marriage is settled for now, but the tension between "religious rights" and "LGBT rights" are not. Expect to hear more about these views as the election heats up.

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