In Questionnaire Stenehjem Flip Flops On Gay Marriage While Burgum Is Incoherent On Abortion

North Dakota gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum, center, debates Wayne Stenehjem, left, and Paul Sorum at the North Dakota Newspaper Association convention Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Crosby. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

The North Dakota Family Alliance is one of the largest and most well-known socially conservative groups in North Dakota.

Recently they sent out a questionnaire to the Republican gubernatorial candidates – Doug Burgum, Wayne Stenehjem, and Paul Sorum – asking them about certain issues of interest to the group. Like abortion, gay marriage, and religious liberty.

You can read the full questionnaire below. Not surprisingly Paul Sorum, who is running way to the right of both Stenehjem and Burgum on social issues, checks off all the boxes for the NDFA.

Stenehjem and Burgum took much more nuanced views. Case in point, Burgum’s continued confusion on the abortion issue, which he clearly hasn’t gotten any more comfortable with even after months of campaigning. When asked about pro-life bills passed by the state Legislature, Burgum said he would have supported some but was didn’t want to answer about his support for one specific piece of legislation. Also, his opposition to abortion generally seems in question:

Burgum

I realize that the abortion issue isn’t a high priority for many voters, but for others it is a high priority and Burgum’s on-going inability to articulate a definitive stance on the issue hurts him politically I think. Especially in a Republican primary.

Meanwhile, though, I’m not sure Stenehjem did himself any favors with his position on the anti-gay marriage language which continues to exist in North Dakota’s state constitution. Here’s what he told the NDFA:

stenehjemgaymarriage

This seems contradictory to what Stenehjem said about gay marriage back in January. ““Yes, I do support it,” Stenehjem said of gay marriage in an interview with a left-wing talk radio host (audio at the link). “I understand that it’s the law of the land and that is something that we’re all going to have to get used to.”

“We have a big tent,” Stenehjem added, talking about the Republican party. “We welcome people of all persuasions, religions, sexual persuasions, race, creed, religion, whatever that may be; and that’s the reality of what we’re going to deal with now.”

I’m not sure the homosexual community is going to find Stenehjem’s position on keeping anti-gay marriage language in the state constitution, even after it has been struck down by the Supreme Court, to be all that welcoming.

If Burgum’s rhetorical flailing on the abortion issue comes off as something less than sincere, Stenehjem’s pandering on gay marriage seems equally calculated and cynical. And probably not all that politically advantageous either. The number of voters willing to go to the mats to deny homosexuals the opportunity to create consensual, loving unions with one another is small and shrinking these days, even in North Dakota.

Here’s the full questionnaire:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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