Watch: Cruz Defends Religious Liberty on “Good Morning America”


Earlier this morning, Ted Cruz appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where he took a question from an audience member on religious freedom laws being passed around the country and whether they amount to “institutionalized discrimination.” Cruz responded by forcefully defending the First Amendment and federalism.

You can watch his full answer and read the transcript below:

TODD CALONGNE: Hi, I’m a lifelong Republican, and I’ve been married to my husband for two years now. And my question is: I’ve noticed a lot of religious freedom laws and somewhat institutionalized discrimination laws happening around the country. What would you as president do to protect me and my husband from that institutionalized discrimination.

TED CRUZ: Well, listen, when it comes to religious liberty — religious liberty is something that protects everyone. It is the very first amendment — the very first phrase protected in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights. And religious liberty — it applies to Christians, it applies to Jews, it applies to Muslims, it applies to atheists. And all of us, we want to live in a world where we don’t have the government dictating our beliefs, dictating how we live. We have a right to live according to our faith, according to conscience. And that freedom ultimately protects each and every one of us. And we shouldn’t have the right to force others to knuckle under and give up their faith and give up their belief. And for me, I mean, I have spent my entire adult life fighting to defend religious liberty, fighting to defend the right of every one of us to seek God and worship God. And I think keeping government out of the way of your lives protects the freedom of everyone of us.

ROBIN ROBERTS: When you talk about freedom — what he’s referring to with his husband, a lot of people would say, ‘Doesn’t everybody have the freedom to be treated equally? Don’t we all have the freedom to be equal?’

CRUZ: Of course we do. And the First Amendment protects everyone equally. It protects our faith. It protects the faith of an Orthodox Jew to follow his or her faith without the government getting in the way and regulating kosher delis and restricting what can be served. It protects the freedom of all of us.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you supported a Constitutional amendment that would have the effect of overturning the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. So what would that for couples like Todd and his husband who already are married.

CRUZ: Well, listen, I’m a Constitutionalist. And under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states. The has been the case from the very beginning of this country, that it’s been up to the states. So if someone wants to change the marriage laws, I don’t think it should be five unelected lawyers down in Washington dictating that. And if even if you happen to agree with that particular decision, why would you want to hand over every important public policy issue to five unelected lawyers who aren’t accountable to you, who don’t work for you. Instead, if you want to change the marriage laws, convince your fellow citizens to change the laws — and by the way, it may end up that we’ve got fifty states that laws in one state might be different than another state and we would expect that. We would expect the people of New York to adopt different laws perhaps than the people of California or Texas or Florida. And that’s the great thing about a big, diverse country is that we can have different laws that respect different values.

Paul Dupont is the managing editor for

Paul Dupont

Paul Dupont is editor of

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