In GOP Debate, Some Candidates Push Religion as an Excuse to Discriminate

By Adam Polaski • September 17, 2015 • 10:03 am

Last night, September 16, CNN aired the second debate this election cycle among Republican presidential candidates.


The candidates discussed a broad range of topics – including discrimination against LGBT Americans. Several candidates specifically defended Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who refuses to comply with the law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal all continued their defense of Davis, making the claim that personal beliefs against LGBT people is more important than the law.

Just this week, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that these candidates’ views didn’t line up with a supermajority of Americans: 74% of Americans believe that treating people equally under the law is more important than someone’s individual religious beliefs when a conflict between the two arises. In the same poll, 65% of people said that Kim Davis should either follow the law by doing her job, or resign.

Former New York Governor George Pataki echoed these views, explaining that the law always trumps an individual’s beliefs.

Santorum was the only candidate to specifically call for passage of the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” or FADA, which has been introduced in the United States Congress and would make it easier for individual, organizations and even businesses to legally discriminate against same-sex couples and their families.

The objectives of FADA are commonly rejected by the American people: A majority of Americans said it was wrong for businesses to deny services to LGBT people because of who they are or who they love. What’s more, a strong majority of people from all political ideologies – 76% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans – support comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Matt McTighe, Campaign Manager for Freedom for All Americans, reflected on the debate and reiterated the strong conservative support that exists for non-discrimination policies:

“It’s clear that some candidates for president are willing to toss aside the rule of law in order to make it easier to discriminate against gay and transgender people. Thankfully, their views are not supported by the vast majority of Americans.  In fact, 65 percent of Republicans believe that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, should be treated equally under the law.”


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