Mike Rounds on same-sex marriage

My story in this morning’s paper took a broader look at Sen. Tim Johnson’s switch to favor same-sex marriage — a move not echoed by any of the state’s top Republican elected officials.

Sen. John Thune, Rep. Kristi Noem, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and former Gov. Mike Rounds all believe marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Rounds, who is running to succeed Johnson in the Senate, elaborated on his views in an interview Monday afternoon.

"I firmly believe that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman," Rounds said. "There are some things that man can’t change."

He reiterated support for South Dakota’s current constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed in 2006 by a 52-48 vote.

"Our state constitution clearly defines it in that fashion. I think that was a very solid response from the people of our state as to their recognition or their reaffirmation of that very basic tenet," Rounds said.

But the former governor was more cautious when asked whether the federal constitution should include such a ban.

"You want to be very careful any time you try to define the constitution of the United States," he said. "I would like to see the language being proposed before I said it should be one thing or another."

Rounds also said he doesn’t feel supporters of same-sex marriage are “bad.”

"When we make it very clear that our belief about what marriage is, we sometimes forget that there are people out there who feel differently and whose lives this directly impacts," he said. "When we define marriage, that does not mean that we think that people are bad because they believe otherwise. We simply disagree with the changing of what is traditional marriage. 

"For those individuals who feel differently, that is their prerogative. The statement of our position does not change."

Rounds is currently the only declared candidate for South Dakota’s Senate seat, currently held by Johnson, which is up for election in 2014.