Jeb Bush said he believed that the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make a decision on marriage, adding that it is "crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."
"Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he disagreed with the decision, but that "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."
"I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.
"While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.
"The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion. Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience.
"I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court's decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the only alternative after the decision was to "support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage."
"I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges 'has been with us for millennia.' In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas. As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.
"Recognizing that our Founders made our Constitution difficult to amend, I am reminded that it was first amended to protect our 'First Freedom' — the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow 'right to worship,' but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs. In fact, the Wisconsin constitution explicitly protects the rights of conscience of our citizens. I can assure all Wisconsinites concerned about the impact of today's decision that your conscience rights will be protected, and the government will not coerce you to act against your religious beliefs.
"I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience. We will continue to fight for the freedoms of all Americans."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he will "not acquiesce to an imperial court."
"The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.
"This ruling is not about marriage equality, it's about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.
"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the decision "must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty."
"The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states' rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.
"This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.
"The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies. That would be a clear violation of America's long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.
"I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me."
Rick Santorum said, "The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices."
"Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people's opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.
"But leaders don't accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path. Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best. I realized that fact early on and that is why I lead the charge against some in my own party in 2004 to ensure the Federal Marriage Amendment received a vote and I continue to stand for marriage, for families, for freedom.
"As President, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright- to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home. I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution. And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built."
Dr. Ben Carson said the Court's decision "is now the law of the land," but called on Congress to make sure "religious views are respected and protected."
"While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, their ruling is now the law of the land. I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs. I support same sex civil unions but to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form."
Carly Fiorina said she did not think the Court could or should redefine marriage, but said the focus now should "on protecting the religious liberties and freedom of conscience for those Americans that profoundly disagree with today's decision."
"This is only the latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is and not what the law should be. Justice Alito spoke for so many of us when he said that '[t]oday's decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage ... All Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority's claim of power portends.'
"The Court ruled today that all Americans should receive equal benefits and rights from the government under the law. I have always supported this view. However, this decision was also about the definition of marriage itself. I do not agree that the Court can or should redefine marriage. I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country.
"Moving forward, however, all of our effort should be focused on protecting the religious liberties and freedom of conscience for those Americans that profoundly disagree with today's decision.
"The Court did not and could not end this debate today. Let us continue to show tolerance for those whose opinions and sincerely held beliefs differ from our own. We must lead by example, finding a way to respect one another and to celebrate a culture that protects religious freedom while promoting equality under the law.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he will respect the court's decision, but said he was "comitting myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans."
"I am a proud defender of traditional marriage and believe the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and I will respect the Court's decision. Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress. Rather than pursing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans. No person of faith should ever be forced by the federal government to take action that goes against his or her conscience or the tenets of their religion. As president, I would staunchly defend religious liberty in this nation and would devote the necessary federal resources to the protection of all Americans from any effort to hinder the free and full exercise of their rights. While we have differences, it is time for us to move forward together respectfully and as one people."
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was disappointed with the decision and added that, "as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.”
"I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. I'm a firm believer in traditional marriage, and I also believe the 10th Amendment leaves it to each state to decide this issue. I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment. Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he doesn't agree with the way the decision was done, but said as president, he would have a responsibility to enforce the law of the land.
"It has no connection to the Untied States Constitution, they are simply making it up," Cruz told Sean Hannity. "It is lawless, and in doing so they have undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court."
Cruz said he has introduced a constitutional amendment "that would protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman," as well as "legislation stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal assaults on marriage."
"The sad thing is there aren't a whole lot of Republicans in Congress willing to stand and fight on either one of those," Cruz said.