Fusion’s Jorge Ramos sat down on Tuesday with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to talk about the 2016 campaign, congressional deadlock on immigration, and the recent Supreme Court ruling on equal marriage—a decision the Texas senator called “a fundamental threat to democracy.”
Cruz said the high court’s ruling was an example of “five unelected elite lawyers” imposing a policy position on the American people. “Why bother to have Congress, a president and elected representatives if any big issue… five unelected elite lawyers in Washington can just decree their answer wrong,” he said.
There’s strong opposition to equal marriage among the GOP presidential bench, but polls show that it’s a position that puts candidates like Cruz out of step with most of the country. According to data from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, 57 percent of Americans support equal marriage compared to 39 percent who oppose. Among religiously affiliated Americans, support holds around 60 percent overall.
The tides are turning in Cruz’s home state as well. A survey conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune in advance of the last week’s Supreme Court decision found that voters are supporting equal marriage at a higher rate. While neither side holds a majority, the poll found that 44 percent of Texans said they believed that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, though 41 percent disagreed. Fourteen percent of respondents said they couldn’t decide.
But Cruz was dubious of the polls. “There’s an old line: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics,” he told Ramos.
When asked if he would want his daughters to have the freedom to marry if they were gay, Cruz said people seem “surprised” that Christians and conservatives love their children before pivoting to religious liberty. He called the Supreme Court decision an “assault on religious liberty” and, specifically, a “direct assault on the Catholic Church.” (Support for marriage equality among Catholics: 56 percent. Among Catholics between the ages of 18 and 29: 85 percent.)
Despite intense focus among some conservatives on an issue that’s been settled by the country’s highest court and is uncontroversial for most Americans, Cruz blamed the media for stoking controversy: “The media… is obsessed with sex. It’s the only thing you want to talk about.”
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton denounced the Supreme Court ruling as “lawlessness,” and said he would “do anything we can to help our county clerks and public officials who now are forced with defending their religious beliefs against the court’s ruling.” In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Cruz said he “absolutely” believes that clerks should be able to opt out of issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples if they have religious objections.
Lawlessness came up once again when Ramos asked Cruz if he had a “Latino problem.” Cruz, who is Cuban-American and who speaks often about his father’s experiences as an immigrant, explained his opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United states by saying he he “supports the rule of law.”
“We are an immigrant nation, we welcome and celebrate immigrants, but we also have to follow rules,” he said.
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