GOP debate: John Kasich was gracious and humane on gay marriage.

John Kasich’s Marriage-Equality Answer Was the High Point of the GOP Debate

John Kasich’s Marriage-Equality Answer Was the High Point of the GOP Debate

Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 6 2015 11:44 PM

John Kasich Offers a Gracious, Humane View on Gay Marriage at the GOP Debate

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich at the Aug. 6 Republican presidential candidates debate.

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters.

Just before Megyn Kelly announced that the next topic at Thursday’s Republican candidate debate would be same-sex marriage, Donald Trump shared his exasperation with the climate of political correctness that has led to a world in which it is “medieval times … as bad as it ever was in terms of the violence and the horror.” He waved his hand dismissively and declared, “We don’t have time for tone.”

Trump’s speech dripped with disdain, but it was immediately followed by a response full of humanity and kindness. Hypothetical questions about candidates’ family members have been tricky since 1988, but undaunted, Kelly turned to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and asked him, “If you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?”

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Without hesitating, Kasich threw up his hands in a “aw shucks” gesture and managed to sound like he was speaking from the heart:

Well, look, I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said the court has ruled … and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to the wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or I can’t love them. So, if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them, and I would accept them, because you know what, that’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith. Issues like that are planted to divide us. … We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have, Megyn, I’m going to love my daughters, I’m going to love them no matter what they do, because you know what? God gives me unconditional love, I’m going to give it to my family and my friends and the people around me.

Kasich’s answer was far from perfect—the phrasing “if one of my daughters happened to be that” was unfortunate, and in noting that he would love his daughters “no matter what they do,” he indicated that he thought being lesbian was something that requires forbearance. Nevertheless, his response was loving and humane, and it received the evening's biggest round of applause.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section.