Former President Jimmy Carter said he believes Jesus would approve of same-sex marriage.
Carter, who recently published the book Faith: A Journey For All, was asked by HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill about his stance on the issue.
“That’s no problem with me,” he said. “I think everyone should have a right to get married regardless of their sex.”
Carter added that the only thing he wouldn’t be in favor of would be churches being forced to perform gay marriages if they didn’t want to do so.
“But those two partners should be able to go to the local courthouse, or to a different church, and get married,” he added.
The former president said he has “had a problem with abortion,” however. He noted that he felt compelled to back a woman’s right to have an abortion, because as president his “oath of office was to obey the Constitution and the laws of this country, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.” Still, he admitted he didn’t think Jesus would approve of the practice, except in the cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of the life of the mother.
“Would Jesus approve of gay marriage?” Hill then asked.
“I believe he would,” Carter answered. “I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse and scripture.”
But he added that his “own personal belief” is that “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.”
Carter was the first U.S. president to invite LGBTQ activists to the White House. The meeting occurred in 1977, with members of The National LGBTQ Task Force, which was then called The National Gay Task Force. The year before, during the 1976 presidential campaign, he called for an end to discriminatory practices against gay people.