THE former Governor of Florida and potential 2016 US presidential candidate has indicated a change in his stance on same-sex marriage just as Florida became the 36th US state to enact it.

Jeb Bush, who is also related to both former Bush presidents — as the son of George Bush Snr and younger brother of George W. Bush — released a statement on his gay marriage stance after a brief interview with the Miami Herald on Sunday.

In his formal media statement released on Monday, he said: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law”.

“I hope that we can also show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

His statement came after telling the Herald on Sunday that gay marriage “ought to be a local decision. I mean, a state decision. The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess.”

Bush had previously been a staunch, vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.

In a 1994 opinion piece in The Miami Herald, he wrote that he did not want to see “sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion”.

His spokesperson responded that the “editorial from 20 years ago does not reflect Gov. Bush’s views now”.

However, Democrats spokesperson Mo Elleithee expressed scepticism towards Bush’s language in his changed approach to the gay marriage debate.

“It took Jeb Bush 69 words to say absolutely nothing – 69 words not to say, ‘I support marriage equality.’ Nothing’s changed,” he told CNN.

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