RNC Chairman Candidates: How did They Do on Marriage? By Maggie Gallagher


The RNC Chairmanship is not just a spokesperson contest. I (and NOM) fully recognize the importance of technical and fundraising competence in the decision-making of the Republican National Committee Members, and my evaluation below is not intended to be comprehensive. This scorecard only evaluates candidates’ answer on the marriage question.

The best news? All five RNC Chairman candidates clearly and unequivocally supported the people’s right to vote for marriage, and opposed same-sex marriage.

The question, asked of RNC Chairman candidates by SBA List president Marjorie Dannensfelser on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage, was something like this:

“More than 80 percent of Republicans support traditional marriage, but certain GOP elites say we are on the wrong side of history on this marriage question nonetheless. Regardless of your view of the RNC Chairman’s job you will be asked to defend the GOP’s position on marriage. What is your best 30 second case for defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman?”

NOM Marriage Scorecard

Michael Steele: B+
Steele called marriage “foundational to who we are as a people” and an important “ideal for family life.”
“There are lots of debates about the definition of family and everyone has a different way of defining it but as a party we have said we support this ideal.” When he speaks about marriage he tends to be more eloquent than the average person.

Rience Priebus: A-
Priebus was the only one who spoke to the combined issues of judicial activism, the natural basis of marriage, and the social ideal it represents for children:

“I don’t believe judges can rewrite the constitution and redraft what marriage is. There is a sanctity to marriage and I agree with Micheal that it is foundational in our lives, I believe children should grow up with a father and a mother if possible. Certainly we support single parents if possible. I don’t believe anyone should be denied dignity, everyone should be loved, I believe that marriage should be between one woman and one man.”

Ann Wagner: B.
Ann Wagner is a strong supporter of traditional marriage, highlighting her work in Missouri to support the state marriage amendment. But her answer was less than ideal because rather than defending traditional marriage as a public idea, she relied on her personal life: “I live my marriage beliefs. I’ve been faithfully and happily married for 24 years, we have 3 beautiful children, I live my family traditional values and my sanctity of marriage as I consider it a true sacrament - a bond between a man and a woman taken before God and others.”

We know supporters of gay marriage who could say the same.

Saul Anuzis: A-
Anuzis like Ann Wagner, has a strong record of support for marriage in his state (Michigan). He argued that marriage as a natural institution, religious but not only religious, and noted that U.S. support for marriage is part of American exceptionalism, something that distinguishes America from Europe and much of the rest of the world.

“Marriage is both a religious and cultural institution that has existed for over 2000 years, it is a natural part of life, marriage is between one man and one woman; the family is very important, this belief to promote marriage and traditional family” is “an important distinction in American between rest of world. Marriage is a religious and cultural institution worth protecting and fighting for.”

Maria Cino: C-
Maria’s answer was the shortest and the least content-filled. She said (and this is her total quote): “I believe in traditional marriage, that’s been a big part of my faith and my family upbringing and I support the Republican platform.”

We appreciate her support for marriage, but wish she could articulate a reason.