Wisconsin governor candidate Michels opposes same-sex marriage

Donald Trump's endorsed candidate for Wisconsin governor is standing by his opposition to same-sex marriage, telling The Associated Press that he believes "marriage should be between a man and a woman."

Tim Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp. construction company, is one of four Republicans running for a chance to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November and this month won the former president's endorsement. Michels spoke with the AP on Tuesday about the race.

His views on same-sex marriage have been in question after he made comments in his U.S. Senate race in 2004 when he backed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. He did not comment when asked earlier this month what he thought of Evers raising a rainbow flag over the state Capitol to celebrate Pride Month.

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"My position that is that marriage should be between a man and a woman," Michels said when asked about it Tuesday.

When asked if he would take steps as governor to limit the rights of gay people, Michels said: "As a businessman, what I do is I look at what’s in the legislation and it’s all about the details. So I am very hesitant to do hypotheticals on a broadly stated question like that."

But Michels said he would win the support of LGBTQ voters because "they know that I’m going to bring proper, proven executive leadership to the governor’s office."

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Wisconsin since Oct. 6, 2014, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court's ruling finding the state ban to be unconstitutional. The next day, officials across the state began issuing marriage licenses. Eight months later, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage.

Since the leak of a draft opinion alluded to the Supreme Court potentially overturning abortion rights, concerns have grown over whether justices could next move to reverse other decisions that rely on the "right to privacy" that the court outlined in the Roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago. One of those is the 2015 ruling that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage.

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Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Hannah Menchhoff said Michels "is once again staking out the most radical position on gay marriage." She pointed to polls that show a majority of Wisconsin residents support same-sex marriage, saying that Michels is "too radical for Wisconsin."

Michels' position on same-sex marriage puts him in contrast with another top candidate in the Aug. 9 Republican primary. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch supports same-sex marriage and her campaign spokesman Alec Zimmerman said earlier this month that "she has moved on from this debate."

Kleefisch in 2010 said that same-sex marriage could result in people marrying dogs, tables or clocks. She later apologized.

Rebecca Kleefisch speaks at the 2022 Wisconsin Republican Convention

Business consultant Kevin Nicholson, another candidate, has said he doesn’t want the courts to revisit the legality of same-sex marriage.

"The American people have made clear their view on this, that they believe that it should be legal," Nicholson said.

State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, another candidate, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Evers' campaign responded to Michels' comment by tweeting a video of Evers waving a rainbow flag while marching in a parade along with the message: "Tony will always support the LGBTQ+ community in Wisconsin."