Boehner: Gay marriage debate a distraction, GOP focused on jobs

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, but characterized President Obama’s announced support for it as a distraction from the nation’s more pressing economic woes.

“The president can talk about it all he wants,” Boehner said at his weekly Capitol press conference. “I’m going to stay focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on, and that’s jobs.”

The Speaker was repeatedly asked about Obama’s Wednesday statement of support for same-sex marriage, which came after a lengthy “evolution” of his thinking on the issue. Each time, Boehner shifted the topic back toward the economy.

At the outset of the press conference, he denounced Obama’s congressional “to-do list” as a gimmick and repeated his attack that the president has diminished the presidency with his focus on his reelection campaign.

While Boehner has suggested that House Republicans have had a laser-like focus on jobs and spending since taking over the majority, the GOP has trumpeted social issues at times.

At his direction, the House has hired outside counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court after the Obama administration dropped its support for the 1995 law. And rank-and-file GOP members are pushing for amendments to an appropriations bill now on the floor that would promote traditional marriage.

“We’ve got a lot of members who have ideas about what’s important to them and you see those items advance here every day,” Boehner said. “The American people – they’re concerned about jobs. That’s why you’ve seen us focused here for the last year and a half on jobs and cutting spending, because our debts and our deficits are like a wet blanket hanging over our economy. So we’re going to continue to stay focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on.”

Asked about a report that Mitt Romney’s campaign plans to make marriage an issue in the presidential election, Boehner replied, “I’m going to stay focused on jobs,” and ended the press conference.