Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters enjoys the financial and political support of his longtime friend, mentor, and billionaire business partner Peter Thiel, who is gay. But Masters, who attended Thiel’s wedding, also apparently believes Thiel’s marriage should be illegal.
“It’s not just Disney, you know—‘follow your heart,’” Masters said at a campaign event earlier this year. “It has a point.”
That “point,” he said, is making children. And since there’s no procreation within same-sex marriages, Masters reasoned, those unions don’t have a point—and therefore should be banned.
Masters, 34, shared this perspective in February with an audience at a Republican Women’s Club event in San Tan Valley, Arizona, where he’s running for Senate. The 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, he told this group, amounted to “squinting and making up so-called rights in the Constitution.”
“The Supreme Court should not be deciding gay marriage. If this country wanted to legalize gay marriage or recognize it, what you would do is you would have a Constitutional amendment. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be hard for a reason,” he said. “Frankly, the Supreme Court just squinting and making up so-called rights in the Constitution—the right to privacy that was for abortion, the right to gay marriage—I disagree with that.”
Masters then pivoted to Thiel’s wedding for a real-world example, saying “I wish him well,” while in the next breath declaring that Thiel’s marriage should be against the law.
“My, you know, former boss and mentor Peter Thiel is gay. I went to his wedding like, you know, I’m—it was great, I wish him well. I don’t think the Supreme Court should have decided that case that way,” Masters said. He added that while he doesn’t think gay marriage is “the live issue right now,” he believes “marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Although same-sex marriage may not have been a “live issue” at the time of that event, it certainly grew into one three months later, when the public got a preview of what last week became the momentous Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
That controversial ruling hung on a due process issue, and the court ultimately kicked the decision back to the individual states. But Roe isn’t the only precedent established on those grounds; other major decisions share a similar legal structure, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that secured the right for gay people to get married.
The implications were not lost on the court. The court’s three liberal justices—Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor—raised a warning in their dissent that Obergefell could be next, along with protections for contraceptives and sexual activity generally.
While the majority of the SCOTUS conservatives parried those concerns, Justice Clarence Thomas stated plainly in his opinion that the Court “should reconsider” all similar due process precedents, calling Obergefell out by name.
Masters also called the case out by name, saying that while he had “a lot of problems” with Chief Justice John Roberts, he aligned with Roberts’ “pretty good dissent.”
That’s because marriage, Masters said, “has a point.”
“Marriage is an institution that goes back thousands of years, and it has a point. The point is procreation and creating children,” Masters said.
Thiel’s marriage, in Masters’ view, would seem to have no point.
It’s unclear how this squares with the “great” wedding Masters attended between Thiel and his now husband, Matt Danzeisen.
Thiel, PayPal co-founder and an early Facebook investor, got hitched after Obergefell, though the longtime couple didn’t hold the ceremony in the United States. They instead invited guests to Vienna, Austria, under the aegis of the venture capitalist’s 50th birthday celebration, and surprised them with the wedding. (Location did not matter; there was no overseas loophole when it came to the federal rights extended in Obergefell.)
At the time, Masters was CFO of Thiel Capital Management, making him a colleague not just of Thiel, but also of Danzeisen, who worked there as a portfolio manager. Thiel had taken Masters under his wing a decade ago, and last year poured $10 million into backing the candidacy of his protege—who frequently plugged his then boss’ technology on the campaign trail.
Masters eventually resigned from Thiel Capital this spring amid ethical concerns. He scored former President Donald Trump’s endorsement earlier this month.
But even with Trump out of office, LGBTQ rights are under attack from conservatives across the country. With Democrats controlling the federal legislative and executive branches, the action has been confined at the state level—something Masters would like to change.
So far this year, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been put forward in 37 states, according to the legislation tracker kept by Freedom For All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign.
Anti-transgender extremism has escalated to the point where parents of transgender children fear for their safety, and the resurgence of archaic homophobic rhetoric around “groomers” and pedophiles—fueled by Republican leaders and conservative media—has stirred anxiety in the LGBTQ community about looming politically motivated violence.
Days before the Roe decision was released, the Texas Republican Party rolled out a radically conservative political platform, denouncing gay marriage as violating the “natural order” and vowing to “protect” minors from the “predatory” Drag Queen Story Hour.
In November, GOP leaders torched Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel for expressing support for gay Republicans at a Mar-a-Lago gala—even calling for her resignation.
Critics say that these developments, like Masters’ comments, show that the Republican Party is winding back the clock. However, when it comes to gay marriage, the GOP’s clock has been stuck in 2016, when the official party platform defined “natural marriage” as between “a man and a woman.”
The libertarian Thiel actually spoke at the 2016 convention just a few minutes before Trump took the stage, declaring, “I am proud to be gay.”
“We are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom,” Thiel said, referencing a controversy over new anti-transgender laws brewing in conservative states.
“This is a distraction from our real problems,” he said. “Who cares?”