Lindsey Graham's Opinions On Gay Marriage Have Evolved, But Still Lean To The Conservative Side

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, announced Monday that he's running for president because "the world is falling apart," according to CNN. He's banking on his foreign policy experience to help him in the 2016 primary, which could be hurt by his more moderate views on immigration reform and climate change. But what are Graham's views on gay marriage? They're a little fuzzy, but they're definitely not as moderate as his work on immigration.

In 1999, Graham supported a measure to ban adoptions by same-sex couples in Washington D.C., and in 2008, he supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But later, in 2012, he became a little less staunch in his views. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, he said he thinks states should have the right to decide marriage rights, according to Think Progress. He said he supported the rights of same-sex couples to "live a free and open life," but he also compared same-sex monogamous couples to polygamous marriages. In the CNN interview, he asked Morgan, "Is it possible for three people to genuinely love each other and want to share their lives together? Is it OK to have three people marry each other?”

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He used the comparison again in January when he questioned Attorney General Loretta Lynch during her confirmation hearing, according to Talking Points Memo:

What's the legal difference between a state ban on same-sex marriage being unconstitutional but a ban on polygamy being constitutional? Could you try to articulate how one could be banned under the Constitution and the other not?

In the CNN interview, Graham also compared the fight for marriage equality to the abolition of slavery, saying that it took a vote by the people to abolish slavery, and so the issue of same-sex marriage should be put the the same kind of vote.

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In early May he edited his position slightly when he told Boston Herald radio that a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was no longer possible, according to BuzzFeed. Graham said he's for traditional marriage and that "most societies have been organized around that concept," but that a changing "social structure" is part of a democracy:

Things are changing, so at the end of the day, being for traditional marriage without animosity is where I stand. If the Supreme Court rules sometime this year that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, then that will be a defining moment in that debate. It will be time for us to move forward as a society.

During his announcement, Graham promised to "be a voice for social conservative values without apology or animosity."

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