Jeb Bush, who called same-sex marriage ‘a distraction’, hints at 2016 presidential run

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Jeb Bush, who has a dubious record on LGBT rights, has announced he will “actively explore” a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The former governor of Florida and son of former President George HW Bush and brother of former President George W Bush has long been rumoured to be mulling a bid for the White House.

He made the announcement on Facebook, saying “I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.”

Jeb Bush branded same-sex marriage “a distraction” during the 2012 presidential campaign.

He said President Obama should drop highly partisan political issues, referring to the latter’s 2012 endorsement of equal marriage, and instead focus on economic policies.

As governor in 2006 Mr Bush hinted at supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, put forward at a federal level by President George W Bush.

Same-sex marriage was already illegal in Florida.

But in recent years his position has moderated.

In March 2013, Jeb Bush said the issue of same-sex marriage should be handled at the state level.

In a 2012 interview, Mr Bush appeared to offer support for some same-sex relationships, but he also maintained that “traditional marriage is what should be sanctioned.”

He told CBS journalist Charlie Rose: “I don’t think people need to be discriminated against because they don’t share my belief on this, and if people love their children with all their heart and soul and that’s what they do and that’s how they organise their life that should be held up as examples for others to follow because we need it.

“We desperately need it and that can take all sorts of forms. It doesn’t have to take the one that I think should be sanctioned under the law.”

Days before the interview Mr Bush told a conservative conference that “way too many people believe Republicans are … anti-everything,” including “anti-gay.”

According to On The Issues, Mr Bush opposed hate crime legislation protecting gay people from discrimination. “I don’t believe we need to create another category of victims,” he told a lesbian couple who heckled him at a 1993 campaign event.

Also in the campaign, his staff asked that caterers at a fundraiser remove the red ribbons that they regularly wore in remembrance of those affected by HIV/AIDS, as the ribbons were deemed a political statement.

He also branded gay rights and feminism “modern victim movements”.

In 1998 Mr Bush reiterated his position against including sexual orientation in Florida’s anti-discrimination laws. When asked if Florida should recognise same-sex marriage, he replied: “No.”

Former First Lady and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic ticket.

In June this year, Mrs Clinton said she had learnt of an “increasing backlash” against LGBT communities from her time abroad.

The senior Democrat also said she had been “ridiculed” by President Yoweri Museveni when she confronted him about Uganda’s anti-gay legislation as Secretary of State.

Raising awareness of LGBT rights violations formed a key part of her agenda at the State Department.

Mrs Clinton announced her support for equal marriage in March last year.