TAMPA, Fla. — Utah‘s senior U.S. Senator and an influential voice in the Republican party broke ranks Tuesday with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the party’s platform, differing on support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, speaking on the convention floor to Sirius Q XM radio, said, “I’m a believer that the states should be able to make their own determination. There are about, what, six states that have done it? They’ve chosen to do that. I don’t agree with that, because I believe in the sanctity of the marriage covenant and the traditional definition, but the states have a right to do it.”
Hatch, who is running for reelection this year, said that he felt it should be a state’s rights issue.
“Well, my personal belief is that we should not discriminate against anybody, but I do draw the line at the definition of marriage,’ he said. “I think that it’s a very important thing for men, women and children. But I don’t want to see anybody showing prejudice against anybody.”
Hatch was first elected to represent Utah in the Senate in 1977 and formerly served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee.
Previously, Hatch has held traditional GOP and conservative viewpoints on issues regarding LGBT people.
In 2006, he voted in favor of an unsuccessful federal marriage amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, Hatch was an early supporter for federal AIDS funding along with Sen. Arlen Spector (R-Pa.), with whom he voted to reauthorize the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act in a GOP controlled Congress.
Hatch later credited the gay-led Log Cabin Federation for influencing his vote.
On Tuesday, delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention approved a platform calling for a ban on all same-sex unions, and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Earlier this year, Romney told Christian evangelical leaders during a conference call with the Faith and Freedom Coalition, that President Barack Obama was leading an “assault on life,” an “assault on religion” and an “assault on marriage” as part of a larger “assault on American values.”
“I think (Obama) is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage,” said Romney. “I would, unlike this president, defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.”