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Sanford: Supreme Court Shouldn't Have Final Say On DOMA

JAKE TAPPER: Governor, how would you respond to somebody who says, look, I understand where you're coming from, but you still oppose same-sex marriage, and yet you are somebody who did not lead an exemplary life as a husband? Who are you to deny love between two men or two women, when you are somebody who talks about following his heart, regardless of the laws and traditions of the state of South Carolina? Why are you sitting in judgment of same-sex couples, when you have had the life you have had?

MARK SANFORD: Well, I think it's important not to redefine my view, which to an extent what you just described is. What I have said is I indeed back in 1996 voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. I was a member of Congress, just as President Clinton signed the bill itself into law and just as President Obama up until about a year ago had allegedly believed and prescribed the same law.

What I have said is I think the current debate has little to do with same-sex marriage and a whole lot to do with democratic tradition in this country and a whole lot to do with the role of the courts.

I think that if you're a conservative, you believe in this notion of federalism, that one size does not fit all and that we shouldn't have prescriptive answers coming out of Washington, D.C., for any of the different things ultimately that we have got to resolve as a family of Americans.

And to have an unelected set of judges deciding what marriage is or is not for all 50 states to me does not make sense. We're beginning to have a democratic conversation on that front, where nine states plus the District of Columbia have said we define marriage to include same-sex marriage.

But the idea that the court should step in and basically truncate that larger debate that I think we need to have as Americans as to what it is or what it isn't is not to condemn it, not to say that your views are wrong. It's to say this is what I define it as.

And I think that again for another state or for Washington, D.C., to prescribe to South Carolina what they think same-sex marriage ought to be is contrary to the democratic tradition that we have had in this country wherein we sit down as Americans. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don't. But that debate should not be cut short.

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