This week, a Republican congressman from Florida drew fire from the right over his support of gay marriage.
U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., told the Washington Post on Monday that he supports same-sex marriage and applauded a Monroe County judge who, last week, struck down the state constitutional amendment passed by voters recognizing only traditional marriage in Florida.
As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," Jolly told the Post "But as a matter of constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of ones marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County circuit judge.
Jolly was elected in a special election in March, beating former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate, in an upset. Libertarian Lucas Overby, who pulled 5 percent back in March, is the only candidate Jolly faces in November.
Conservatives pushed back against Jolly on Wednesday, insisting the new congressman said he supported only traditional marriage during the campaign. More than 50 conservatives, who identified themselves as Jollys campaign volunteers, financial supporters and constituents, sent the congressman an open letter on the matter, saying they were profoundly disappointed with his support for same-sex marriage. The group included activists with Florida Family Action which was a leading force behind the successful state constitutional amendment recognizing only traditional marriage in the Sunshine State passed by Florida voters in 2008 and which is currently helping defend the law in court.
So many of us worked, walked, called, gave money and voted to help you get elected and defeat the liberal Democrat Alex Sink because you personally assured us that you were a conservative Republican who believed that marriage was between one man and one woman, the conservatives wrote Jolly. In church after church, you publicly stated your support for the policy behind Florida's law and Florida's Constitution which clearly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as over 30 other states have done.
Just months ago, you told us that you supported a state's right to define marriage which is consistent with the holding of the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case of U.S. vs. Windsor -- yet now you are completely failing to support your own state's law and the constitutional mandate passed by 5 million Floridians, the conservatives noted. You ran for Congress as a member of the Republican Party with a platform clearly affirming that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be upheld as the national standard and now you have turned your back on this standard.
By agreeing with the judge's recent ruling in Monroe County, you promote the fiction that Florida's marriage laws have been declared unconstitutional by some legitimate authority, the conservatives continued. The federal courts have clearly not given their final word on this matter and the ruling is being appealed by Florida's attorney general.
The conservatives insisted Jolly agreed with the Monroe County judges irresponsible claim that citizens in your district who passed the marriage amendment were motivated by animus or hatred toward gay-identified persons.
Nothing could be further from the truth or more morally repugnant to us, as we all affirm the inherent dignity and value of every human being, the conservatives wrote. We reject your illusory and false dichotomy between your personal views and public views as a legislator as you made no such distinction during your campaign. Liberals for years have made the same arguments to deceptively triangulate on other moral issues.
Insisting Jollys comments were not those of a serious-minded and thoughtful legislator who understands the state's compelling interest in the economic and social implications inherent within the institutions of marriage and family, the conservatives demanded to know what other issue the congressman could change his view on. Calling Jollys support of same-sex marriage, an act of cowardice and a betrayal to the very persons that worked extremely hard to get you elected to office, the conservatives demanded he publicly apologize for this mistake and hold fast to your original position that states should define marriage as it has always been, the union of one man and one woman only.
Jollys statement did draw the applause of Marc Solomon, the national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, which is supporting same-sex marriage around the nation.
We congratulate Congressman Jolly for doing the right thing by his constituents and his country in supporting the freedom to marry, Solomon said on Monday night after Jolly said he backed same-sex marriage. He joins the growing wave of Republicans across America who recognize that marriage for same-sex couples is in sync with Republican values of individual liberty and strong families. All committed couples across the Sunshine State should have the freedom to marry and share in the protections of marriage that are crucial to building a family and taking care of their loved ones."
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.