During a speech at a tea party event last November, Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner responded to an audience member’s question, saying that if governor, he would have vetoed the recently passed marriage equality bill, according to video obtained by BuzzFeed.
At a meeting of the Northern Illinois Patriots on Nov. 12, 2013, an audience member asked Rauner, who is now the Republican nominee for governor, “Bruce, would you have vetoed the gay marriage bill?”
Rauner replied, “I would have. As I’ve said, as I’ve said from day one: I have not supported gay marriage, and I have not advocated for it. And I don’t advocate for or against it.”
The candidate continued, saying the matter should be left up to voters, and not the legislature — where it received final approval by the Illinois House Nov. 5. Rauner’s opponent, incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, pushed for the bill’s passage and later signed it into law Nov. 20.
“I’ve said that voters should decide it directly in a referendum, and I’ve said that if it hasn’t gone to a referendum — if it came to my desk — I would have to veto it because it hasn’t been in a referendum yet,” Rauner said. “The voters should decide. I don’t think that politicians should force it on voters if they don’t want it and I don’t think that politicians should block it from voters if they do want it. I’m a limited government, let people decide what they want to do with their lives. That’s my view of things.”
Rauner opponents and LGBT advocates in recent weeks have criticized the candidate for what they say is his refusal to take a stance on the issue.
On Thursday — just days before the annual Pride Parade — marriage equality supporters gathered near a giant banner posted on a building in Chicago’s LGBT community enclave, or Boystown, reading, “Bruce Rauner on equal marriage: ‘If I were governor, I would veto it,’” according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.
On June 2, a day after the new marriage equality law took effect, a Rauner campaign spokesman declined to comment on the candidate’s stance on marriage equality when asked by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Bruce does not have an agenda on social issues,” spokesman Mike Schrimpf said, and noted that Rauner wouldn’t overturn the law unless a majority of voters called for it via referendum, according to the paper.
And after a speech to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce on the same day, Rauner told reporters, “Now it’s passed, it’s the law, I don’t have any agenda to change it and the only way I’d change it is if it were done in a referendum — the voters said that they’d want to change it,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Earlier this year, Ruaner and his primary opponents were grilled on the issue by the Chicago Tribune editorial board, but Rauner reportedly would not take a position on the matter, saying, “I’ve said from day one that that’s an issue that should be decided by the voters directly in a referendum.”
When pressed on why it matters to the editorial board, Rauner said, “I’m going to do what the voters want done. That’s what I’ll do. And I won’t take any action unless I see what the voters want.”
A message was left with Rauner’s campaign office seeking comment.
A spokesman for Rauner, Lance Trovor, told BuzzFeed, “Bruce is comfortable with current law and doesn’t seek to change it.”