Same Sex Marriage

John Bolton's Surprising Support For Gay Marriage

If he runs for President, Bolton would be the first Republican candidate for the Oval Office to support gay marriage.

08.22.13 3:51 PM ET

John Bolton’s presidential campaign wouldn’t just be notable for his mustache; he'll be the first Republican candidate to openly support gay marriage.

The former ambassador to the United Nations, best known for his hawkish views on national security and hirsute upper lip, is now considering running for President in 2016. Bolton’s campaign will be predicated on his foreign policy background and the desire of the prominent neo-conservative to counter the growing isolationist wing of the GOP led by Rand Paul. 

However, in an interview with Robert Costa of National Review, Bolton let slip a surprising bit of information; he’s for gay marriage. He said “On gay marriage, I support it, at both the state level and the federal level. Gay marriage is something I’ve thought about at length as I’ve looked at my future. I concluded, a couple years ago, that I think it should be permissible and treated the same at both levels.”

If Bolton runs, he would be the first Republican presidential candidate to support gay marriage. (In 2012, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said he backed civil unions but still insisted that marriage should be between a man and a woman). Although social issues will not be the focus of Bolton’s campaign, his presence in debates and on the stump as an advocate for same-sex marriage will likely pull the debate in the GOP to the left. After all, Bolton can’t be characterized as a RINO. He has impeccable credentials in the conservative movement and was considered perhaps the most hawkish member of George W. Bush’s administration.  

Bolton, who has never before run for elected office, is unlikely to win the Republican nomination. But if he runs, it would likely be a big help to New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is considered the most socially moderate of any potential Republican candidate.  Bolton’s presence in the race wouldn’t necessarily endear Christie, who supports civil unions and recently signed a bill banning gay conversion therapy in New Jersey to social conservatives. But it would simply make the New Jersey governor seem comparatively less objectionable and make him less of a target in what is likely to be a boisterous and divisive primary campaign.