Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was asked by a gay Republican April 18 about "religious freedom laws" that discriminate against LGBT people (video below).
Cruz was asked the question during a televised town hall on "Good Morning America" by Todd Calogne, who owns a pizza parlor in New York City, notes ABC News.
"I’ve noticed a lot of religious freedom laws and somewhat institutionalized discrimination laws happening around the country," Calogne said. "What would you as president do to protect me and my husband from that institutionalized discrimination?"
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Well, listen, when it comes to religious liberty, religious liberty is something that protects every one of us. It is the very First Amendment, very first phrase protected in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. And religious liberty, it applies to Christians, it applies to Jews, it applies to Muslims, it applies to atheists. And all of us, we want to live in a world where we don't have the government dictating our beliefs, dictating how we live. We have a right to live according to our faith, according to our conscience.
And that freedom ultimately protects each and every one of us. And we shouldn’t have the right to force others to knuckle under and give up their faith and give up their belief. And for me, I have spent my entire adult life, fighting to defend religious liberty, fighting to defend the freedom of everyone of us to seek out and worship God. And I think keeping government out of the way of your lives protects the freedom of every one of us.
ABC News co-host Robin Roberts followed up: "But when you talk about freedom, what he referred to with his husband, a lot of people would say, 'Doesn’t everybody have the freedom to be treated equally, don’t we all have the freedom to be equal?'"
"Of course we do," Cruz answered. "And the First Amendment protects everyone equally, it protects our faith. It protects the faith of an orthodox Jew to follow his or her faith without the government getting in the way and regulating kosher delis and restricting what can be served, it protects the freedom of all of us."
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However, Calogne's original question wasn't about defending personal religious beliefs or religious practices, but rather discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the public marketplace in the name of religion.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos asked about Cruz’s support for a federal marriage amendment that would nullify same-sex marriages. Cruz defended the proposed federal legislation by saying that marriage should be left to the states:
Well, listen, I am a Constitutionalist. And under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states. That has been the case from the very beginning of this country that it has been up to the states. And so if someone wants to change the marriage laws, I don’t think it should be five unelected lawyers down in Washington dictating that.
The Constitution never actually mentions marriage, even as "a question for the states." The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many times on marriage, as far back as 1879 when the high court upheld the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act.