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Why many 2016 GOP hopefuls are mum on Supreme Court gay marriage moves

Some possible Republican presidential candidates – Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio – chided the Supreme Court for its actions Wednesday on gay marriage cases. But many others remained quiet. Why is that?

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“The sweeping language of today’s majority opinion is more troubling than the ruling itself as it points to further interference by the Court in the years to come,” Senator Rubio said in a statement. “I recognize that the definition of marriage and the legal status of same-sex relationships is a deeply personal and emotional issue for Americans of a variety of viewpoints. These types of disagreements should be settled through the democratic process, as the Founders intended, not through litigation and court pronouncements.”

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania Republican who ran for president in 2012 and has not ruled out another bid, also chided the high court.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that the Supreme Court would continue a pattern of stepping in and making decisions that were very clearly left for the public and the Congress to make,” Mr. Santorum said during a Fox News interview.

And Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, affirmed his belief that “traditional” marriage is between a man and a woman, Politico reports. He said as well that the Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8 effectively tosses the matter back to the states.

“They’re trying to say nothing, is what they’re trying to say, but in doing that the other side of the coin is there are 34 states that have decided in favor of traditional marriage,” Senator Paul said on Glenn Beck’s radio show. “Those are affirmed now. … The good side to this ruling is they have affirmed to states that this is a state issue and states can decide.”

It is Rubio’s lengthy statement, however, that inherently acknowledges the battle ahead for Republicans, like him, who – if they decide to seek the nation’s highest office – must convince voters that their opposition to same-sex marriage doesn’t reflect an underlying bias against gays and lesbians. His comments suggest that it will be difficult to plead for an expanded Republican tent while denying rights demanded by a large subset of Americans.

“My hope is that those of us who believe in the sanctity and uniqueness of traditional marriage will continue to argue for its protection in a way that is respectful to the millions of American sons and daughters who are gay,” Rubio said. “It is also my hope that those who argue for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will refrain from assailing the millions of Americans who disagree with them as bigots.”

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