Ted Cruz has been racking up support from Religious Right leaders, and even touting endorsements from the movement’s most extreme activists. One of the first Religious Right groups to endorse Cruz was the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which hailed Cruz as “a proven champion for marriage and religious freedom and someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation’s laws.” In return, Cruz called NOM “a critical voice in protecting our rights.”
The Texas senator also joined Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and then-presidential candidate Bobby Jindal in signing the group’s presidential pledge, vowing to work towards banning same-sex marriage, to order government offices to “restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”
NOM and other anti-gay groups may then be taken aback by what Cruz said at a Manhattan fundraiser where, in an audio recording provided to Politico, the GOP candidate assured one donor who said he disagreed with the senator’s stance on marriage equality that he wouldn’t make opposition to gay marriage a priority in his administration.
Of course, Cruz has been singing a very different tune on the campaign trail, where he has treated marriage equality as nothing short of a national emergency.
Cruz has told Religious Right outlets that gay marriage would pose a “real threat” to “our liberties,” usher in the end of free speech, and lead to such immense religious persecution that civil disobedience would be needed. He even once alleged that the gay rights movement is waging “jihad” against freedom and likened the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling to “Nazi decrees.”
During a November conference call with anti-gay activists, Cruz promised “to defend marriage on every front” against the “lawless” and “illegitimate” Supreme Court decision. Cruz even went as far as saying that he would direct the federal government not to recognize the Obergefell ruling: “We will not use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision that is a usurpation of the authority of we the people in this country.”
It’s almost as if Ted Cruz has two different messages for two different audiences.