• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Republicans Backing Away From Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage?

The continuing evolution of public opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage is something that we’ve discussed many times here at OTB. In a remarkably short period of time, we’ve gone from a time when opposition to the very idea of gays and lesbian couples being allowed to marry was so strong that it was able to pass Constitutional amendments in many states defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, to a point where it seems clear that we are on an inexorable course toward widespread recognition of same-sex marriage, although it may take longer in some states than in others. In 2004, Republicans were able to capitalize on the issue for electoral benefit. Now, though, there’s a clear effort inside the GOP to back away from strident opposition to gay marriage, mostly in recognition of demographic inevitability:

Just a few years ago, House Republicans were trying to etch their opposition of gay marriage into the Constitution.

Now? They’re almost silent.

It’s been one of the swiftest shifts in ideology and strategy for Republicans, as they’ve come nearly full circle on same-sex politics. What was once a front-and-center issue for rank-and-file Republicans — the subject of many hotly worded House and Senate floor speeches — is virtually a dead issue, as Republicans in Congress don’t care to have gay marriage litigated in the Capitol.

Even more than that, Republican leadership has evolved, too. It has quietly worked behind the scenes to kill amendments that reaffirm opposition to same-sex unions, several sources told POLITICO.

It’s not like the GOP has become a bastion of progressiveness on gay rights, but there has been an evolution in the political approach — and an acknowledgment of a cultural shift in the country. Same-sex relationships are more prominent and accepted. There are more gay public figures — including politicians — and it’s likely that many Washington Republicans have gay friends and coworkers. Just as important — there’s also a libertarian streak of acceptance on people’s sexuality coursing through the House Republican Conference.

(…)

[T]here’s also a political strategy at work: The economy has displaced moral issues in today’s politics. Ask most House Republicans today if they have deep convictions about gay relationships, and it hardly registers.

“I personally have deep convictions about my children having a financially stable country that they can live in,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in an interview. “I want my daughters to have the opportunities that I had, and that’s what concerns me. That’s what keeps me up awake at night, not worrying about who’s sleeping with who.”

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a 32-year veteran of Congress, never a man of many words, simply said, “I don’t hear it discussed much.”

Even die-hard social conservatives like Texas Republican Louie Gohmert aren’t digging in.

“That’s not something we’re focused on now,” Gohmert said.

(…)

there’s also a political strategy at work: The economy has displaced moral issues in today’s politics. Ask most House Republicans today if they have deep convictions about gay relationships, and it hardly registers.

“I personally have deep convictions about my children having a financially stable country that they can live in,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in an interview. “I want my daughters to have the opportunities that I had, and that’s what concerns me. That’s what keeps me up awake at night, not worrying about who’s sleeping with who.”

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a 32-year veteran of Congress, never a man of many words, simply said, “I don’t hear it discussed much.”

Even die-hard social conservatives like Texas Republican Louie Gohmert aren’t digging in.

“That’s not something we’re focused on now,” Gohmert said.

(…)

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released earlier this month showed a 9 percent increase in support for gay marriage among Republicans to 31 percent. Support among 18-to-34-year-olds was nearly 70 percent, according to a 2011 Washington Post/ABC News poll.

Nobody is saying that the GOP is about to follow the lead of David Cameron’s Conservative Party which is leading the fight for marriage equality in the United Kingdom, a fight that the will most likely win thanks to their shared Parliamentary majority with the Liberal Democrats. Nonetheless, there has been a decided shift in rhetoric on this issue and a growing acceptance of homosexuality in general, and same-sex marriage in particular, inside the Republican Party. In part, it’s because of the ongoing shift in public opinion which makes it much less politically advantageous for the GOP to push the social conservative position on this issue than it was just seven or eight years ago. As noted in the article, though, the other factor at play is the fact that the new class of Republicans that came into office in 2010 are far more focused on economic and fiscal issues than on social issues, and far more receptive to a libertarian, or at least federalist, argument when it comes to an issue like same-sex marriage. There’s likely to be a contingent inside the GOP that opposes same-sex marriage for the foreseeable future; that’s kind of inevitable for a political party with a strong base of support in states that are heavily Evangelical Christian.  What’s becoming clear, though, is that this is likely to become more and more of a fringe issue inside the party and that you’ll start seeing more Republicans who support same-sex marriage.

Alana Goodman comments and notes that this is just another sign that the opponents of same-sex marriage are getting desperate:

If you want to get a sense of where the traditional marriage movement is heading, the recent controversy over the National Organization for Marriage’s leaked action plan – which called for driving a wedge between gay and black people after Proposition 8 – is a good place to start. As correct as NOM may have been from a tactical standpoint (the black community’s support for Prop. 8 helped kill gay marriage in California), the ick-factor here is incredibly high. Just look at the language: NOM said it was seeking to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks”; “provoke” gay marriage supporters into “denouncing these [African American] spokesmen and women as bigots”; and “fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop. 8.” This isn’t the language or the vision of a noble cause, and it certainly doesn’t sound like one that supporters can feel good about belonging to.

It also isn’t something that a national political party is going to want to associate itself with. Slowly but surely the arguments against same-sex marriage are being demolished by the facts and all that’s left is an outdated view of sexual morality, and what can only be called bigotry. The National Organization for Marriage and groups like Focus On The Family are reflective of this trend. The more they lose ground, the more virulent their attacks on gays as people become, and the more they turn people off to their position on same-sex marriage. Now that they’re losing their primary political vehicle, I’d expect them to become even more hateful in their rhetoric.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jeremy R says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/mitt-romney-gay-marriage_n_1391867.html

    It also isn’t something that a national political party is going to want to associate itself with. Slowly but surely the arguments against same-sex marriage are being demolished by the facts and all that’s left is an outdated view of sexual morality, and what can only be called bigotry. The National Organization for Marriage and groups like Focus On The Family are reflective of this trend. The more they lose ground, the more virulent their attacks on gays as people become, and the more they turn people off to their position on same-sex marriage. Now that they’re losing their primary political vehicle, I’d expect them to become even more hateful in their rhetoric.

    I’m not sure how successful the GOP is going to be at disassociating themselves from bigoted groups like NOM when their likely 2012 standard funded them to the tune of 10 grand, last time around:
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705258483/Despite-speculation-about-2012-Romney-focuses-on-GOP-in-08.html

    According to his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney has done 20 events for the GOP ticket since April — including seven since the GOP convention — and more than double that for other Republican candidates around the country.

    The former leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City also has contributed more than $375,000 from his Free and Strong America political action committee to a variety of conservative candidates and causes.

    Those causes include California’s Proposition 8, which would reverse that state’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage there earlier this year. Romney donated $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, Fehrnstrom said.

    “The governor feels strongly that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, and one of the most high-profile fights on this subject is happening in California,” Fehrnstrom said.

    The contribution from Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is “completely unconnected” to the church’s own involvement in the issue, Fehrnstrom said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Bennett says:

    But should they get back in power, don’t worry, these issues will be back. Classic GOP. Run on economy, govern on social issues. Rubes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. Jeremy R says:

    ^ Ooops, I didn’t mean to included the redundant Huffpo link. The first quoted block is obviously from the end of Doug’s post, not from that Huffpo article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Nobody is saying that the GOP is about to follow the lead of David Cameron’s Conservative Party which is leading the fight for marriage equality in the United Kingdom, a fight that the will most likely win thanks to their shared Parliamentary majority with the Liberal Democrats.

    Indeed, the idea that the current GOP is capable of an act that politically courageous is preposterous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Inevitably the GOP will come to support gay marriage, just as they eventually supported civil rights, equal pay for women and so on. But not until they’ve hurt as many innocent people as possible for political advantage. I think there’s still plenty of gay-bashing demagoguery to come from the GOP. Because even when they nominally accept something — like civil rights — it never stops them from crawling in the gutter to win power.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    They’re silent on the issue of Gay Marriage now because (except for Vaticanites like Rick Santorum) they recognize that they’re losing ground among some of the people that they might otherwise appeal to on some of the economic issues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. DRS says:

    Well, they’re making the heterosexual women mad as hell with all the birth control nonsense (lesbians don’t need the Pill for reproductive reasons, only healthcare ones) so is it surprising they’re turning back to the guys?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Davebo says:

    As November approaches the GOP crab walking begins yet again.

    Is anyone surprised?

    Come June, most Republicans become Libertarians right Doug?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  9. Tlaloc says:

    The thing about “standing athwart the march of history yelling ‘stop!'” is that well history keeps right on marching. Conservativism amount to little more than a tantrum that things change and will continue to change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. WR says:

    Of course, if you’d asked any Republican in April, 2010 if they were going to fight to enact harsh anti-abortion laws, they would have said exactly the same thing: “We’re not focused on that issue right now.” And they would have been telling the truth, because focusing on abortion wouldn’t have gotten them elected. Of course, since they’ve been in power, stripping rights away from women (and doctors) is just about the only thing they’ve focused on.

    It will be the same with gay rights if they win this election. And of course, they’ll claim they have a mandate for it, since everyone has always known what they really believe.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It’s the stupidity, economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Inevitably the GOP will come to support gay marriage, just as they eventually supported civil rights, equal pay for women and so on.

    lol you people are so caaaaaaraaazy, but I will deal with this one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3LqPedoxSk&feature=share

    oh, and so you can tell Harry…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=x-oS4WLui3Q

    And for anyone that’s interested:) Having a open mind and needing help and all that.
    http://www.exodusglobalalliance.org/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  13. Delmar says:

    i have said before that the priority with many people is jobs, cost of living, and cost of gasoline. Someone’s social calendar or lifestyle is down low on the list when it comes to changing laws and all the resulting legal, economic, and social ramifications. I have issues that I would like addressed by the politicians also, but I realize that they are busy with a disastrous economy and serous concerns overseas (Syria). I am not trying to trivialize this issue because I know that it is important to people on the vast spectrum of this.
    I also think that everyone who has a viewpoint or thought about this should express it in the spirit of civility, patience, and respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. merl says:

    They need to realize that it’s the 21st Century, not the 18th.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. @Have a nice G.A.:

    And for anyone that’s interested:) Having a open mind and needing help and all that.

    We really don’t need the kind of “help” organizations like Exodus are offering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. ernieyeball says:

    While they are at it GOP candidates could “back away from” support for unscientific, mythology based creationism and “intelligent” design.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @ernieyeball: Yes! It would behoove us all if the GOP kept its mitts off science curricula. On the flip side of that coin, however, the Democrat Party should back away from its irrational opposition to private school vouchers, shouldn’t it? Unless of course Democrats don’t want the kids of poor inner city blacks to get opportunities for decent educations. Also, since we’re sort of discussing it, the Democrat Party should back away from its irrational opposition — when Republicans are in charge, at least — to eliminating collective bargaining for wages and healthcare coverages for public-sector workers. For the simple and obvious reason that giving people whose salaries and benefits are paid by taxpayer dollars more rights than those same taxpayers enjoy in the latter’s private sector jobs is pretty darn stoo-pid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  18. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “the Democrat Party should back away from its irrational opposition — when Republicans are in charge, at least — to eliminating collective bargaining for wages and healthcare coverages for public-sector workers. For the simple and obvious reason that giving people whose salaries and benefits are paid by taxpayer dollars more rights than those same taxpayers enjoy in the latter’s private sector jobs is pretty darn stoo-pid. ”

    Which is why Democrats should be fighting to protect and improve collective bargaining rights for all workers, and should be actively opposing the right’s 80-year quest to destroy unions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Nick,
    If you’re against public employees banding together to lobby for better wages and benefits, I take it you’re also opposed to lobbying by companies receiving government contracts? After all, that’s taxpayer money, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. An Interested Party says:

    Having a open mind and needing help and all that.

    Ha! You writing about having an open mind? The irony is so thick one would need a chainsaw to cut it…

    If you’re against public employees banding together to lobby for better wages and benefits, I take it you’re also opposed to lobbying by companies receiving government contracts? After all, that’s taxpayer money, too.

    Oh come now, didn’t you know? Public sector workers are simply “parasites” feeding off the taxpayers while those companies are the “job creators” that, in the process of supposedly creating all those jobs, make sure that their workers don’t have the same rights as public sector workers…get with the program…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I personally have deep convictions about my children having a financially stable country that they can live in,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in an interview. “I want my daughters to have the opportunities that I had, and that’s what concerns me. That’s what keeps me up awake at night…

    And GOP/Conservative/Libertarian economic theory combined with the tangible results that we see from it helps you to sleep better because…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. ernieyeball says:

    Parents are free to send their kids to private schools. They are also free to pay for it themselves.
    Since I am a property owner I pay my fair share of taxes to the local Public School Districts I live in. Although I have never had any kids I gladly support these Public Schools as a matter of civic responsibility. I have no interest in my tax money being diverted to parochial schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. Mary G says:

    @DRS: This. All the demonizing of Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion and anti-conception legislation & rhetoric, along with the Sandra Fluke affair, has driven me way back toward the Democratic Party. I think some of the saner Republicans can see the writing on the wall and are trying to tone it down in this election year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  24. Have a nice G.A. says:

    We really don’t need the kind of “help” organizations like Exodus are offering.

    maybe you don’t, maybe some do.

    Its still a free worldview.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  25. Have a nice G.A. says:

    While they are at it GOP candidates could “back away from” support for unscientific, mythology based creationism and “intelligent” design.

    lol….that’s funny cumming from the folks that can’t even defeat ME!! in a debate on the subject.

    This. All the demonizing of Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion and anti-conception legislation & rhetoric, along with the Sandra Fluke affair, has driven me way back toward the Democratic Party.

    sigh…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  26. superdestroyer says:

    Since the Republican have no impact on national politics these days, who cares what the Republicans position is on any issue.

    In a couple of years when universities are demanding that applicants reveal their sexual orientation and the government has established quotas for homosexuals, I wonder how “conservatives” will justify supporting it.

    As the U.S. becomes a one-party-state, the real fight in politics is to determine where one’s demographic group rest in the political-correctness pecking order. Right now the right is over whether homosexuals or blacks are first in the pecking order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  27. Alanmt says:

    @Delmar:

    I might be a little sensitive, but referring to my family as a ‘social calender’ or ‘lifestyle’ seems a little disrespectful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. An Interested Party says:

    I might be a little sensitive, but referring to my family as a ‘social calender’ or ‘lifestyle’ seems a little disrespectful.

    You are correct…that is disrespectful, but some people still can’t let go of the idea that homosexuality is somehow a “choice”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    If homosexuals were not so concentrated in certain cities, in certain professions, and in certain high income levels, it would be easier to believe that it is not a lifestyle choice. Yet, when homosexuals are overwhelmingly white, rich, and living in urban centers, there is obviously some choice aspects to it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  30. @superdestroyer:

    82% of the US population lives in urban centers. Everyone is overwhelming living in urban centers; THAT’S WHAT MAKES THEM URBAN CENTERS.

    Women also go into certain professions, as do various racial groups. Do you think sex and race are choices too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    82% of Americans do not live in “urban centers” but most Americans do live in large metropolitan areas. However, more Americans actually live in the suburbs than in central urban areas even though homosexuals seem to concentrate into a few urban center while avoiding others and while apparently avoiding the suburbs all together.

    Also, medical school and law school are 50% female where pharmacy schools was gone from 80% male in 1960 to 80% female today (approximate numbers). Yet, how many heterosexual males are fashion designers or how many homosexuals are research physicist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  32. An Interested Party says:

    Yet, when homosexuals are overwhelmingly white, rich, and living in urban centers, there is obviously some choice aspects to it.

    Could you ever stop being a stereotyping idiot? Homosexuality is no more a choice than is heterosexuality…

    …even though homosexuals seem to concentrate into a few urban center while avoiding others and while apparently avoiding the suburbs all together.

    More $hit that you just pull out of your ass…no, I guess you can’t stop being exactly what you are…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. @superdestroyer:

    In the 2010 census, of the 308,745,538 people in the US, 219,922,123 lived in urban areas, 29,331,148 lived in larger metropolitan areas, and 59,492,276 lived in rural areas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. @superdestroyer:

    The gay and bisexual people I know run a broad range of society. From high school dropout working in retail, to a former regional Red Cross coordinator with a PhD in biochemsitry. The biggest contingent is IT and Engineering, but mostly because that’s the industry I work in so I know a lot more IT/Engineering people to begin with.

    It’s not that we’re more or less common in various industries, but that we can be more or less open about it in various industries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0