Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly made news Monday night when he announced his support of same-sex marriage in a statement to the Washington Post, making him only the eighth such Republican member of Congress to approve of gay marriage. The newly elected Representative stressed in his statement that while he personally believes in traditional marriage because of his Christian faith, he thinks the government should support both traditional and same-sex marriages.
"As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," said Jolly in a statement to the Post. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”
Jolly was asked by the paper to respond to his thoughts on the issue in the wake of last week's ruling in Monroe County by Circuit Judge Luis Garcia to order the county's officials to begin issuing marriage licenses beginning tomorrow. Garcia found that Florida's gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2008 violated the right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
However same-sex marriages in Monroe County won't be happening anytime soon, after an appeal was filed today by Attorney General Pam Bondi. Judge Garcia upheld the stay, saying that other courts had opted "to stay proceedings in similar challenges," such as in Utah and Oklahoma.
Marc Solomon, the national campaign director for the group Freedom to Marry, released a statement less than an hour after Jolly's statement made the wires.
“We congratulate Congressman Jolly for doing the right thing by his constituents and his country in supporting the freedom to marry," said Soloman."He joins the growing wave of Republicans across America who recognize that marriage for same-sex couples is in sync with Republican values of individual liberty and strong families. All committed couples across the Sunshine State should have the freedom to marry and share in the protections of marriage that are crucial to building a family and taking care of their loved ones."
And while that "growing wave of Republicans" may be blossoming on the national stage, there aren't that many in the Florida GOP establishment that have gone as far as Jolly in announcing their support for same-sex marriage, with the exception of Miami-Dade-based Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The 41-year-old Jolly has already shown in his short time in Congress that he's not playing strictly by the GOP handbook. He notably voted against the Paul Ryan-crafted House budget months ago, one of just a handful of Republicans in the House to do so. That plan calls for major overhauls of Medicaid and Medicare, a political no-no in the senior-laden district.