Gov. John Kasich on March 21 seemed to come out in support of same-sex civil unions during an interview with a Cleveland TV station, saying, “I just think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union, that’s fine with me.”
But Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols later that day emailed a release to media across the state saying that Kasich was using the term “civil union” loosely and the governor is still against changing the Ohio Constitution to legalize same-sex civil unions and gay marriage.
“The governor’s position is unchanged,” wrote Nichols. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and, while he may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance, he recognizes the existing rights of Ohioans to enter into private contracts to manage their personal property and health care issues.”
The clarification conflicted with earlier comments from Kasich, who told the Cleveland TV station, “I’ve got friends that are gay and I’ve told them ‘Look, (same-sex marriage) is just not something I agree with,’ and I’m not doing it out of a sense of anger or judgment; it’s just my opinion on this issue.”
The comments from Kasich, who will run for his second term as governor in 2014 and is seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, come during a period of renewed soul-searching within the Republican Party. Most recently, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced his support of same-sex marriage two years after his son came out as gay. The change means both Ohio senators now support gay marriage.
A recent report from the Republican National Committee said opposition to LGBT rights could be hurting support from younger voters.