LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who keeps mostly silent on social issues in favor of focusing on the economy, is stepping carefully on the issue of gay marriage after a judge's declaration that the state's ban is unconstitutional.
While Snyder supported traditional marriage in the 2010 campaign, his penchant since then has been to deflect questions about his personal views and defer to the ban Michigan voters passed with almost 60 percent support in 2004.
He's not pushing to drop the state's appeal, as GOP governors have done in New Jersey and Nevada. Nor is he saying if the state will recognize same-sex marriages conducted over the weekend, preferring to wait for word from an appeals court. The appellate court put an indefinite halt to them Tuesday while taking a longer look at the judge's decision.
Snyder's office describes it as a "complex, unusual situation," and says it's "sensitive to feelings on this issue."
His detachment is exasperating critics who say he should take more of a leadership role, even if it's an issue he would prefer go away. His dogged neutrality also reflects the challenge for Republican leaders nationally whose opposition to gay marriage is becoming less visible as the party works to improve its image and polls suggests most Americans support same-sex marriage.
"It's clear that the Republican Party is going to have to make a strategic decision whether it's worth fighting a fight — a political, cultural and social fight — that's already been lost," said Dennis Lennox, an under-30 GOP strategist and Michigan precinct delegate. "If you're running for office this November as a Republican, setting aside deeply held religious beliefs if you have them, do you really want to be talking about gay marriage?"