Monday, March 18, 2013

GOP Elite Wants Defeat On Marriage

It's a big day on the marriage equality front. There's a new Washington Post (soon to be behind a "leaky ass" paywall) poll showing a best-yet 58% approval for gay marriage. And today is the day Hillary has finally decided to come out of the closet. 

Can it be just five years ago that, even in the middle of a Democratic nomination fight, both Clinton and Obama had to pretend they were in the dwindling "between a man and a woman" camp? Or less than a decade since Howard Dean was a radical for supporting civil unions? (And of course, this is a she is So Running move.)

But the smartest thing anyone has said about marriage today comes from Josh Barro at Bloomberg:
Even after marriage equality becomes a settled issue in the north, Republicans will have to deal with the embarrassing problem of southern Republican politicians and voters clinging to their anti-gay laws -- much in the way that the retrograde racial politics of some southern Republicans have created national branding problems for the party in recent years...  It will be like if Loving v. Virginia had never happened, and Mississippi still had a law against interracial marriage in 1990.

Gay marriage opponents are going to lose the fight; the only question is whether they will lose it in a way that is quick and painless or long and ugly. If Anthony Kennedy or John Roberts vote to strike down all the state bans on gay marriage, Republicans will be furious with them, but the justices will in fact have done the party a huge favor.
At the beltway elite level, leading Republicans know this is over. They know that the social issues are toxic to young voters and to the growing libertarian wing of the party. The have as much as admitted it in their post-election post-mortem released this morning (here's the whole thing). They know the evangelical base is on the wrong side of history.

The problem is: that base is still a sizable chunk of that primary vote, and they're not going to let go any more than the conclave was going to pick a pro-marriage equality pope. (At least he's talking to his former foes.)

Maybe the Republicans need to win by losing, not just at the Supreme Court but at the polls. The Christian conservatives will argue that they've never really nominated one of their own, a Huckabee or a Santorum or, less credibly, a Gary Bauer. I say, let `em. Go ahead and nominate an all-out social conservative in 2016. Talk about no-exceptions abortion bans all you want. Feel free to lose 44 2/3 states. (The 5 1/3: Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Idaho, Wyoming and the 3rd CD in western Nebraska.) 

That'll get these issues off the table once and for all. Hey, if it's the right thing to do, I don't care if it helps Republicans. It'll give them more time to explain their equally foolish economic policies.

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