GOP candidates lash out at Supreme Court for same-sex marriage ruling

Last Updated Jun 27, 2015 8:10 PM EDT

The Republican Party's presidential candidates uniformly condemned a Supreme Court's ruling that enshrined same-sex marriage as a nationwide reality on Friday.

Some struck a more alarmist tone than others.

"This ruling is not about marriage equality, it's about marriage redefinition," declared former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor and fan favorite among Christian conservatives. "This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."

"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity," he added.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, another stalwart of the religious right, added his reaction on Twitter:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed his dismay at the ruling and warned of more cultural battles to come, predicting that religious freedom of same-sex marriage opponents will come under attack.

"Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that," he said. "This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty."

Others were a bit more measured, voicing their disapproval of the ruling but urging opponents of same-sex marriage to respect the rule of law and the gay couples for whom Friday's decision meant so much.

"I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side."

Bush nodded at the importance of preserving religious liberty, as well: "It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."

A spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, "The governor has always believed in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but our nation's highest court has spoken and we must respect its decision."

Perhaps the most conciliatory statement came from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voiced his disagreement with the ruling but explicitly ruled out an effort to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage - a proposal some ardent foes of LGBT rights have pushed in recent months.

"I am a proud defender of traditional marriage and believe the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws," Graham explained in a statement. "However, the Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and I will respect the Court's decision. Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress."

Still, in a reflection of how quickly religious liberty has emerged as the next focal point for social conservatives, Graham added, "Rather than pursing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans. No person of faith should ever be forced by the federal government to take action that goes against his or her conscience or the tenets of their religion."

And then there's Donald Trump, who lashed out at the Supreme Court's decision on Twitter:

It's worth noting, however, that Roberts did not side with the majority on the same-sex marriage case. The chief justice wrote a dissenting opinion, siding with the court's conservatives in declining to affirm the marriage rights of gay couples.