A day after the high court’s decision, a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans in a ruling that could soon allow gay and lesbian couples to wed in five more states.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated bans in Idaho and Nevada, and the ruling might well extend to three other states in the 9th Circuit that do not permit same-sex couples to marry: Alaska, Arizona and Montana.
A decade ago, President George W. Bush won re-election in part by supporting ballot initiatives in several states seeking a constitutional ban on gay marriage, boosting turnout among motivated conservative voters.
Support for legal same-sex marriage has grown swiftly in the years since, and several polls have found that majorities of Americans are in favor of legal recognition for gay marriages.
But for religious conservatives who hold outsized influence in Republican presidential contests in the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, the issue resonates.
“If you’re a candidate for president who refuses to oppose homosexual marriage, I don’t see how you get elected,” said Steve Scheffler, a Republican national committeeman from Iowa. “You’re going to get clobbered.”
Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, issued a warning for anyone eyeing the 2016 presidential contest: “There will be no avoiding this issue.”
That’s exactly what some Republicans contemplating presidential bids would like to do.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pleaded ignorance when asked about the court’s decision Monday at a campaign appearance in Connecticut.
“I haven’t had a chance to read it,” said Christie, who drew fire from cultural conservatives last year when he declined to appeal a court ruling legalizing gay marriage in his state. “I don’t give comments based on headlines.”