Republican leader Kevin McCarthy begrudgingly admits same-sex marriage is ‘the law of the land’

Kevin McCarthy speaks at a weekly news conference

Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy has vaguely endorsed marriage equality as the “law of the land” after a GOP representative said she was “wrong” to have opposed it.

McCarthy, the minority leader who represents California‘s 23rd congressional district, was asked if his years-long position on same-sex marriage has changed on Thursday (30 September) at a weekly news conference at the US Capitol.

Six years after the Supreme Court ruled that laws barring same-sex couples from getting hitched violates the US Constitution, McCarthy, who fiercely backed such laws, fumbled as a reporter asked how he now stands on the issue.

McCarthy stumbled and steadily grew frustrated as he replied: “Look, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and it’s what America holds, and that’s the law of the land.

“There’s no difference. That’s the law of the land! I support the law of the land. I don’t see how that’s different. I don’t see how that’s news.”

Kevin McCarthy once said same-sex marriage ban was the ‘law of the land’

McCarthy was once of the loudest backers for the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), a vile Clinton-era federal law that banned queer folk from marrying and from pocketing federal spousal benefits.

He helmed the GOP’s legal defence of the law when then president Barack Obama told the justice department to stop supporting the law in court.

In 2011, he banded together with other Republicans to ram a lawsuit to force the Obama administration to defend DOMA.

And seemingly echoing the very words he would today use to support marriage equality, a statement from his office said at the time said: “The Defense of Marriage Act was passed with bipartisan support over 15 years ago and is the law of the land.

“When federal laws are the subject of a federal lawsuit, the Department of Justice typically defends those laws in court.

Kevin McCarthy speaks during a weekly news conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Unfortunately, attorney general Holder and the Obama administration have chosen to walk out on their responsibility, and the House has stepped in.

“Regardless of personal opinion, we cannot pick and choose which laws to support. They are the law and we must defend the law.”
Support for LGBT+ rights – same-sex marriage included – has slowly risen among Republicans for years, pollsters have found.

For the first time in history, a majority of Republican supporters said they are in favour of marriage equality, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.

McCarthy’s turnaround comes after Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney said she was “wrong” to have backed banning marriage equality – a belief that splintered her family.

The 55-year-old, who has represented Wyoming’s at-large congressional district since 2017, told 60 Minutes on Sunday that she has come to regret her steadfast opposition.

Chiefly, she reflected, because it fuelled a tense rift between her and her gay sister, Mary.

“I love my sister very much. I love her family very much and I was wrong. It is a very personal issue and very personal for my family. I believe that my family was right,” she said.

“My sister and I have had that conversation. Freedom means freedom for everybody.”