U.S. Rep. David Jolly has offered a thoughtful explanation of his reasonable position on gay marriage that could be a model for other Florida Republicans. At risk of upsetting some of his own supporters, he believes government should recognize same-sex marriages and says that does not conflict with his personal religious views or his belief in limited government. That coherent philosophy should be embraced by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott and Jolly's other colleagues who continue to cling to a rigid, discriminatory position that is being rejected by the courts.
Jolly, R-Indian Shores, told the Washington Post this week that "as a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage. 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 one's marriage should be defined by their faith and their church, not by their state.'' He said he supported last week's decision by a Monroe County circuit judge that Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses.
That puts Jolly at odds with Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who are fighting a losing legal battle in appealing the decision. It lands him among at least seven other Republicans in Congress — four senators and three House members — who publicly support legalizing gay marriage. And it predictably drew criticism from opponents of gay marriage who supported Jolly in his special election victory earlier this year.
In a long explanation to his constituents, Jolly recounts his religious faith and how he and his church define marriage as between a man and a woman. Then he neatly describes his commitment to federalism and limited government, concluding that the U.S. Constitution that protects his freedom to practice his religion also protects the personal rights of same-sex couples to have their marriages recognized by government. Jolly makes a particular point that same-sex marriage and civil unions should not be viewed as a threat to "those of us in the Christian faith community who believe in traditional marriage."
Jolly's expansive, candid explanation differs from the approach by Scott and Bondi, who hide behind poorly worded legal briefs and avoid publicly discussing their opposition to same-sex marriage. It also stands in stark contrast to the incoherent ramblings by Rubio, who continues to improperly mix his religious views with discriminatory government bans as he defends prohibitions on same-sex marriage. His claim that calling out his intolerance amounts to intolerance of his religious views is nothing of the sort.
Jolly recognizes the difference between religious beliefs and government-sanctioned discrimination. He probably also sees that the courts, public opinion and the political winds are trending toward tolerance, fairness and legally recognizing same-sex marriages. Rubio, Scott and Bondi have yet to see the light. It will be up to the courts and the voters to help them along.