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Boehner wants to focus on jobs, not the gay marriage issue

May 10, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • House Speaker John Boehner speaks at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker John Boehner speaks at his weekly news conference on Capitol… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON-- House Speaker John A. Boehner showed little interest in making an election-year debate out of President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, steering away from a social issue that could weigh heavily in some regions where GOP candidates must appeal to voters on both sides of the debate.

“The president and the Democrats can talk about all this all they want,” Boehner said Thursday. “But the fact is, the American people are focused on our economy and they're asking the question, where are the jobs?”

Republican leaders have tried to keep their robust conservative flank in Congress focused on economic issues that are most important to voters, rather than the social issues that have defined the party in the past.

Igniting a debate on gay marriage could prove troublesome for both parties as they battle for majority control of the House and Senate and candidates try to appeal to voters across the ideological divide.

At the same time, while Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill agreed with Obama’s new position on gay marriages, they largely declined Thursday to incorporate the topic into the floor debate or political agendas they have already set for the weeks ahead.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a top party strategist, declined to say how the gay marriage issue would play in Missouri or Montana, conservative-leaning states where Democrats are fighting to hold their Senate seats.

Asked if a same-sex marriage plank should be included in the Democratic Party platform, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, was curt: “I'm sure it will be.”

Only Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), the minority leader, voluntarily addressed the issue Thursday with an overwhelming embrace.

Obama’s decision “filled my heart with joy,” Pelosi said. She dismissed concerns about the difficulty the president’s position could pose for Democratic candidates in the House. “We came here to do a job for the American people not to hold a job,” Pelosi said. “And I think what he did was to advance the cause of civil rights in such a personal as well as presidential way that it's more important than any political consequences.”

Twitter.com/LisaMascaroinDC

Original source: Speaker Boehner wants to focus on jobs, not gay marriage

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