Jimmy Carter: States should be able to say no to redefining marriage

“If Texas doesn't want to have gay marriage, then I think that's a right for Texas people to decide,” Carter said.
Mon Oct 27, 2014 - 4:05 pm EST
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States that hold to traditional values should not be forced to redefine marriage, according to former President Jimmy Carter.

“If Texas doesn't want to have gay marriage, then I think that's a right for Texas people to decide,” Carter told WFAA-TV in Dallas, where he is working on the site of another Habitat for Humanity building project.

The exchange came after reporter Jason Whitely asked Carter how he could “reconcile” the Bible's description of homosexuality as an “abomination with his support for same-sex “marriage.”

“I kind of draw what I consider to be the right line,” Carter said, noting that he carefully observes the separation of church and state. “I don't think the government ought ever to have the right to tell a church to marry people if the church doesn't want to.”

“I'm a Baptist, and the congregation of our church will decide whether we have a man or a woman as pastor and whether we'll marry gay people or not. And if my church votes not to marry gay people, then we wouldn't do it and I wouldn't want them to,” he said.

The 39th president said he does not believe homosexuality is “preventable or caused by anything,” so he believes members of the same sex should be able to “marry” – but only if individual states agree to recognize those marriages on their own.

"I'm kind of inclined to let the states decide individually,” he said.

Carter discussed his religious support for homosexuality while promoting his own study Bible. “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality,” he said in 2012. “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”

He said at that time that he he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”

His interview comes just as the Obama administration has announced it will recognize same-sex "marriages" in six more states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said, “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.” Carter's words would put his views more in line with those of Republican Senator Rand Paul than the administration. 

However, Carter's judicial appointees have not always agreed with his federalist position. In 2012, Carter-appointee Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to strike down California's Proposition 8 – a constitutional amendment state voters adopted in 2008 to protect marriage – in an 89-page ruling that cited William Shakespeare and Marilyn Monroe.

In June, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Wisconsin's marriage protection amendment unconstitutional. Carter named Crabb to the bench in 1979.

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The former president, who campaigned in 1976 as a “born again Christian,” encouraged the military to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2007, and three years later told the website Big Think it was time to elect “a gay person” as president.

The 90-year-old still shows remarkable energy and mental focus, campaigning over the summer for his grandson, Jason Carter, a pro-abortion Democrat who supports redefining marriage. The younger Carter would like to hold the office that launched his grandfather to the presidency from incumbent pro-life Republican Nathan Deal.   

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