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Politicians split on same-sex decision

Steve Peoples
Associated Press

Washington — For the second time in two days, the Supreme Court struck at the heart of the Republican Party platform.

Yet the wave of outrage that followed the high court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law wasn’t nearly as intense after Friday’s ruling to give same-sex couples the right to marry. Friday’s ruling instead drew tepid responses from several Republicans who, in many cases, would like that issue to fade away.

The sharp contrast highlights the political challenges for a Republican Party searching for a winning playbook in 2016.

The GOP’s presidential class is ready to bet big their opposition to Obama’s health care law will resonate with voters for a third straight election. But facing a seismic shift in public opinion on gay marriage, several of the party’s most ambitious appear ready to turn the page on a social issue the GOP used for a generation to motivate its most passionate voters to turn out and vote at the polls.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was clearly prepared for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Clinton fired off several tweets after the court issued its decision, and her Facebook and Twitter profile pictures are now a rainbow version of her “H’’ campaign logo. She says in one tweet, “Proud.”

Perhaps no Republican presidential candidate better illustrated the contrast than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was ready with a fiery statement and a video entitled, “This is not the end of the fight,” to decry the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Affordable Care Act.

In a fundraising email, he warned that Clinton would offer “more of the same.” ‘’That is why I need you to make a one time-emergency contribution of $50, $25 or $10 to my campaign to ensure that NEVER happens.”

A day later, after the marriage ruling, Bush made no such fundraising pitch, offering only a one-paragraph statement. States should be allowed to make the decision, he said, adding, “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.”

Polls show what’s motivating the temperance of some in the GOP: Americans are more likely than not to support same-sex marriage, with some surveys showing as many as 6 in 10 in favor.

While most Republicans remain opposed to same-sex marriage, 59 percent of those between age 18 and 34 supported marriage rights for gay couples in Pew’s most recent poll.

To be sure, several Republicans running for president — like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who entered the race this week — condemned the court’s same-sex marriage decision and pledged to continue to fight.

The anti-gay marriage organization has given each Republican presidential contender two weeks to return a signed pledge that, among other things locks candidates into supporting a federal constitutional amendment “that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Some members of the GOP field signaled their openness to that idea on Friday. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Friday’s ruling “a grave mistake.”

Still, several GOP candidates — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Bush among them — have said they would not support such an amendment.