Idaho Governor Candidate Tweaks Vow To Protect Marriage

Jul 6, 2017

Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist has removed language from his campaign website promising to fight to protect Idaho's right to define marriage.

Ahlquist is the only gubernatorial candidate whose website includes a resolution to protect the "sanctity of marriage."

The Boise businessman demurred in June when asked by The Associated Press what policies he would support that would uphold the Idaho Constitution's unenforceable and illegal definition of marriage as only a union of a man and a woman. Ahlquist then told reporters during an interview on the Point of Personal Privilege podcast last week that it was possibly time to change that promise.

Campaign manager David Johnston confirmed the website change Wednesday.

"Tommy believes that marriage should be the union of a man and a woman. As our governor, he will support policies that promote and safeguard the traditional institution of marriage," his website read Wednesday.

Previously, it had also said Ahlquist "will fight to protect Idaho's right to define marriage within our state and support the current definition of marriage in Idaho as law."

The marriage resolution is one of 12 key issues listed under his "blueprint" for Idaho that outline various political beliefs and goals he would accomplish if elected governor.

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled Idaho's same-sex marriage ban in 2015. Idaho lawmakers have declined to take steps to remove the 2006 constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

"While Tommy strongly disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision on this issue, he will not pursue legal options that are not viable at the expense of taxpayer dollars," Johnston said in a statement Wednesday.

This is Ahlquist's first time running for political office. So far, the only other Republicans running for governor are U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little — both of whom have taken public stances on defending marriage between a man and a woman.

Little helped block Idaho's same-sex marriage constitutional amendment for two years while serving as a state senator in the Idaho Legislature before supporting the 2006 version amid GOP political pressure to do so.

Meanwhile, Labrador has pushed for stronger protections of religious liberties for citizens who believe in the traditional definition of marriage even since the Supreme Court gave same-sex couples the right to marry two years ago. Labrador has introduced legislation that would provide protections to citizens and businesses who believe that marriage is between and man and woman, but so far, he hasn't had luck moving the bill forward.

No major Democratic candidate has entered the gubernatorial race yet.