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Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the gay marriage debate a distraction on Sunday — but prominent evangelical leader Tony Perkins said that’s the wrong way to handle the issue.
“President Obama brought this issue up because he can’t run on his record,” Cornyn said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Obama said this week that he had “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage and now believes gay couples should be able to marry. Republicans have criticized his stance and said marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but have also tried to pivot back to discussing the economy.
“I think we ought to talk about what the American people want, and that is jobs and to get the economy on track,” Cornyn said Sunday. “They want to know what the president’s plan is once the Supreme Court strikes down his so-called Affordable Care Act.”
But Perkins, president of the evangelical Family Research Council, said gay marriage deserves a place in the GOP platform. He said presidential candidate Mitt Romney has handled the issue correctly, but criticized other party leaders.
“I don’t think the way the Republicans on Capitol Hill are addressing it is the way to do it, saying it’s a distraction,” Perkins said. “Defending the family, the cornerstone of civilization, is a not a distraction. It should be a priority.”
Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum offered a similar view in an interview with an Arkansas television station on Saturday. He said marriage can be a “potent weapon” in the fall if Romney will campaign hard on the issue.