POLITICS

Scott Walker's Sons Disappointed With His Comments After Supreme Court Marriage Equality Ruling

WAUKESHA, WI - JUNE 05:  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets his wife Tonette and sons Alex and Matt at an election-night
WAUKESHA, WI - JUNE 05: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets his wife Tonette and sons Alex and Matt at an election-night rally June 5, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Walker, only the third governor in history to face a recall election, defeated his Democrat contender Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Opponents of Walker forced the recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The sons of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) were disappointed with their father's criticism of the Supreme Court's recent ruling on marriage equality, exemplifying the generational divide within the Republican Party on gay rights.

"I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake," Walker said on June 26, when the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage.

That response didn't sit well with his two sons, Matt and Alex, who are taking time off from college to help their father with his upcoming presidential campaign. In an interview with The Washington Post, Walker's wife, Tonette, said she immediately heard from her sons about their displeasure with Walker's comments.

“That was a hard one,” Tonette said. "Our sons were disappointed. ... I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate."

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Last year, Alex served as the witness and best man at the wedding of Shelli Marquardt, Tonette's cousin, and her partner, Cathy Priem.

"It’s hard for me because I have a cousin who I love dearly -- she is like a sister to me -- who is married to a woman, her partner of 18 years," added Tonette.

Walker toned down his criticism of the Supreme Court the day after the ruling, when he went to Colorado with his wife for an event to a friendly crowd of conservatives. There, he instead said, "We should respect the opinions of others in America. But that in return means that they not only respect our opinions, they respect what is written in the Constitution."

The governor told The Washington Post that he doesn't necessarily change his position on an issue when his family disagrees with him, but he does work on "finding a different way of explaining it, so they can appreciate where I am coming from."

In early June, Walker said he supports a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage.

There is growing acceptance of marriage equality in the Republican Party, although there is still a significant generational gap. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that 61 percent of people under 30 who are Republican or lean Republican support same-sex marriage, compared to just 22 percent of those 65 or older.

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