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2016 GOP Candidates Grappling With Gay Marriage Ruling

The Republican Party is grappling with a court ruling that splits the growing number of Americans who support gay marriage with the base of the GOP.
McLennan county deputy clerk Lisa Green explains to Michael Crow, 47, left, and his partner Robert Woodcock, 44, right, their official marriage license Friday, June 26, 2015, in Waco, Texas, at the McLennan County records office. The U.S. Supreme Court declaring Friday that gays and lesbians have the same right to marry as any American reverberated quickly in Texas, which tumbled from the national forefront of opposition to a pastiche of euphoric couples barnstorming county offices and Republican leaders parsing their defeat. (Jerry Larson/ Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)Jerry Larson / AP

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a soon-to-be GOP presidential candidate, attended a same-sex wedding last week, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s wife spoke publicly this week about the couple’s two sons disagreeing with Walker’s opposition to gay marriage.

Those two moves, less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed bans on same-sex unions, illustrate how the Republican Party is grappling with a court ruling that splits the growing number of Americans who support gay marriage with the base of the GOP, much of which remains against it.

Both Kasich and Walker, like the rest of the GOP 2016 field, have affirmed since the court ruling that they believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Walker has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriages. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another 2016 candidate, has called for regular elections for Supreme Court justices in the wake of the rulings on Obamacare and same-sex marriage.

But Walker’s wife Tonette, in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, suggested the Wisconsin governor is the only firm opponent of gay marriage in his own household.

“Our sons were disappointed. . . . I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate,” Tonette Walker said, describing the family’s reaction to the candidate saying he opposed the Supreme Court ruling.

Walker’s sons Matt and Alex are in their early 20’s.

Kasich, as first reported by Northeast Ohio Media Group, attended the July 2 wedding in Columbus of Jeff Gatwood and Steve George, who had served as director of special projects in the governor’s office. Kasich has not spoken publicly of the wedding since he attended, but the governor had indicated earlier in the year he planned to attend George’s wedding.

"I went home and I said to my wife, 'my friend's getting married. What do you think? You wanna go?' She goes, 'Oh, I'm absolutely going.' I called him today and said, 'Hey, just let me know what time it is,'" Kasich told CNN in April, referring to George’s wedding. "My friend knows how I feel about the issue, but I'm not here to have a war with him. I care about my friend, and so it's pretty simple for me."

Chris Schrimpf, a Kasich spokesman, said, “The governor's position on gay marriage is well-established, and he was disappointed with the court's decision on the issue.”

“Two months ago he told a national TV audience he would lend his support to a good friend who is gay by attending his wedding and last week he did just that,” Schrimpf added.