News Column

Thune Remains Opposed to Gay Marriage

March 29, 2013

Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic, Mitchell, S.D.

Sen. John Thune

Seven U.S. senators in the past two weeks have announced their support of gay marriage.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., won't be next.

"My position's been consistent over time," he said. "I'm a believer in traditional marriage."

The Supreme Court is weighing the issue now, as it reviews the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a California ban on gay marriage. Thune said Thursday in Mitchell, where he visited with The Daily Republic editorial board and the Rotary Club, that he hopes the high court is cautious.

"I think it'd be, in my view, a mistake for the court to go too far with this and overreach and come up with a 50-state solution," he said. "I suspect they may throw DOMA out, but I don't think they will take the Prop 8 issue and make a ruling across the country."

There is no doubt, however, that there has been a shift in polls on the number of people who support, or at least accept, gay marriage.

"A lot of it is there are very aggressive lobbying efforts by proponents of gay marriage," Thune said.

In addition, he said there are more people "who are exposed to family members, friends -- there's much more a sympathetic outlook than there has been before."

He also credited "high-profile" political, media and entertainment figures who support the rights of homosexual people to marry. Even former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996, now opposes the law.

Thune attended Biola University, originally known as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. He said he is an evangelical who is personally opposed to gay marriage, but he knows people who are gay and people who differ with him on the issue.

"Everyone has their own opinions and it's a free country," he said.

Marriage has been a "pillar of society" for more than 200 years in the United States, and more than 2,000 years of human history, Thune said. In a way, the family is the "most basic unit of government," he said.

"I'm accepting and understand and love people irrespective of their feeling on that issue," Thune said. "For me, marriage is a very different thing on that issue. There are areas of the country, ours is one of them, that are going to view this issue a little bit differently than people on the coasts."

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., took a moderate stance on gay marriage this week.

"He believes that same-sex marriage should be left up to the individual states," Plumart told The Associated Press.

Was there any pressure to change that stance?

"I'm not aware of any pressure," Plumart said.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she opposes same-sex marriage.

"I am a strong supporter of protecting traditional marriage and family," Noem said. "The American people, through their elected representatives, have defined marriage as union between one man and one woman. I will continue to support preserving traditional family values and vote to protect them."

Source: (c)2013 The Daily Republic (Mitchell, S.D.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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