Jesus wouldn't have any issue with gay marriage, former president Jimmy Carter said Sunday.
In an interview with HuffPost Live, Carter, a born-again Christian, was asked about his personal views on homosexual marriage. "That's no problem with me," the Democratic former president replied. "I think that everybody should have a right to get married, regardless of their sex."
Later on in the interview, Carter said he believes Jesus would "approve" of gay marriage, though he doesn't "have any verse in Scripture" to back that up. "I think Jesus would encourage any…love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else and I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else," he said.
Though Carter supports gay marriage, he doesn't think the government should "force" churches that oppose it to perform such ceremonies.
Carter's faith has led him to disagree with his party on at least one controversial issue. "I have had a problem with abortion," he said. "I have a hard time believing that Jesus, for instance, would approve abortions unless it was because of rape or incest or if the mother's life was in danger. So I've had that struggle."
Carter took office in 1977, four years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) that legalized first-trimester abortion at the federal level. However, his "oath of office was to obey the Constitution and the laws of this country as interpreted by the Supreme Court, so I went along with that," he said.
Though many presidential scholars don't look very favorably on Carter's four years in office, a look at what he actually did reveals it wasn't all lousy. Not only was his record on nonmilitary federal spending better than that of the five presidents who came before him, but he also worked to deregulate the oil, railroad, trucking, and airline industries. And by '70s standards, Carter's record on gay rights wasn't bad: In 1978, he publicly opposed an amendment to California's constitution that would have banned gay people from teaching.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.