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The GOP Won’t Change On Same-Sex Marriage Any Time Soon

Jamelle Bouie looks at the recent slight dip in Rob Portman’s approval ratings in the wake of his endorsement of same-sex marriage, and finds a reason to believe that Republican politicians are going to be slow to endorse same-sex marriage:

[O]nly 48 percent of Ohio voters support same-sex marriage, compared to the slight majority support that exists nationwide. But it does explain why Republicans — who may privately favor marriage equality — aren’t going to announce their support anytime soon. Social conservatives are still an important group within the Republican Party. They provide donors and volunteers, and are a key constituency in GOP nomination contests at all levels.

Explicit support for same-sex marriage might appeal to the general public, but it alienates a large portion of the Republican base. Rob Portman can’t take back his endorsement, but it’s almost certainly true that other lawmakers have noticed Portman’s declining popularity, and will act accordingly.

Outside of individual states in the Northeast and the west where Republicans tend to be more libertarian when it comes to social issues, I think Bouie is  likely correct here. The GOP remains a socially conservative party by and large, and it’s going to take a significantly larger amount of social change to move the party away from its position on marriage equality at this moment. The beginnings are there, and I think we’re at least at the point where Republicans who support marriage equality are not shunned from the party altogether, but for many “traditional marriage” advocates, the GOP is doubt to be their last redoubt in a battle that they are destined to lose.

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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. Mikey says:

    The GOP remains a socially conservative party by and large, and it’s going to take a significantly larger amount of social change old bigots dying off to move the party away from its position on marriage equality at this moment.

    Fixed that for you.

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

  2. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    Also too, they’re going to have to lose big into a couple of election cycles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. We don’t need the GOP to change on same sex marriage. We just need them to lose.

    And they will.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  4. legion says:

    The gullible and uneducated, easily frightened and easily led, will continue to be the hard base of the GOP. As they die off and continue to lose economic import, they will become more and more marginalized, even by their on nominal party. The question is – will they go quietly into irrelevance, not even noticing that nobody actually pays attention to them outside their local primaries, or will they have a collective, violent, psychotic break? Look at the violence being committed by the hard social right in France right now… is that what we have to look forward to here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. Caj says:

    Of course they won’t. So stuck in the dark ages they are afraid of any change. The family values crew are really a joke. More immoral behaviour than you can shake a stick at from so many of them one way or another. I wonder what they have inside the big tent they claim to have! It certainly isn’t a diverse group of people that’s for sure! No, the Republican Party is so out of touch the party itself should disband it no longer has any credibility in the eyes of the majority of the voting public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Interesting, both the Republican Party and the Catholic Church are stuck with social conservatism and each keeps doubling down on it, hoping that dissenters will eventually come around, or failing that, leave the Party (Church).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  7. steve s says:

    For various reasons, though, the GOP will have lots and lots of power in the states, to enact their horrible policies, even as they lose election after election at the national level. Look at abortion. In numerous states it is now de facto banned through actions by state legislatures.

    I live in Florida and have a low-paying, full-time job. I would have medicaid under Obamacare. But because of the neanderthal sh*thead GOP here, I have no healthcare.

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  8. al-Ameda says:

    @steve s:

    I live in Florida and have a low-paying, full-time job. I would have medicaid under Obamacare. But because of the neanderthal sh*thead GOP here, I have no healthcare.

    Republicans want to Third World-ize America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. matt bernius says:

    I suspect that the entire gay marriage issue will end up playing out in a Fashion similar to civil rights.

    There will be small wins in Federal Court — i.e. I expect the forthcoming Supreme Court decisions will be drawn as narrowly as possible, probably punting Prop 8 in a way that effectively strikes it down.

    At the same time, the more progressive/liberal Northern/Central Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Pacific Coast states will all legalize it by the end of this decade. And once the majority of states allow it — not to mention the vast majority of the most populated states — then the Feds will act, either through Congress (the better route IMHO), or the Supreme Court. But either way, most of the South and the southern mid-West and Western states are going to have this forced on them.

    In the meantime, with the GOP and this issue, I think its far more important to watch what’s happening on the ground level, versus at the National level. The fact, that at least in Rhode Island, it’s the Republicans who are leading the current push (and incumbent Dems who are putting up the resistance) is a sign that there’s a grass roots shift in the Republican party.

    IMHO the one to watch is New Jersey. There’s little doubt in my mind that Gay Marriage will pass the legislature again. The question will be whether Christie will change his position and sign the law or if the Legislature will override him. Either case would signal and important sea change for the Republican party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Caj says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I live in Florida as well and what you say is absolutely right. Pathetic low paying jobs everywhere. Republicans are all about themselves. It’s a case of me, myself and I where they are concerned. Selfish to the core!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: In the near term, they’ll probably just take that as a sign of being “insufficiently conservative” and move even more stupidly to the right.

    Something will have to change, though, or they’ll end up with a schism that will split the party, and I guarantee nobody in the GOP leadership wants that. So they will eventually have to simply accept same-sex marriage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. matt bernius says:

    @Mikey:

    Something will have to change, though, or they’ll end up with a schism that will split the party, and I guarantee nobody in the GOP leadership wants that. So they will eventually have to simply accept same-sex marriage.

    Gay Marriage — with a few other historic wedge issues (in particular Immigration) — has the real, and not insignificant potential, to truly split the GOP.

    All we need to do is look back at what happened with Southern Dems after the Civil Rights vote. There’s little doubt that a lot people who historically aligned with the Democratic Party peeled off and joined the Republican Coalition.

    That could happen again, though the question remains where would those people go?

    For example, we’re already seeing Northern, Great Lakes, and Pacific Coastal Republicans supporting Gay Marriage.

    That’s why New Jersey is the place to watch. What happens when Gay Marriage makes its way through the NJ legislature again is going to say a lot about about the state of the Republican party.

    I suspect that party insiders are *praying* that the issue is solved in the Supreme Court. If it is, then the GOP dodges a big bullet (having to actually shift position on this issue).

    If instead, Congress ends up being the one to make the decision (a la the Civil Rights act), Southern House Republicans seem poised to lead a revolt on this issue (just as Southern Dems did in the 60’s). And I have a really hard time seeing a time in the immediate future when Southern Republicans will support Gay Marriage.

    Should the majority of the GOP end up supporting Gay Marriage AND Immigration Reform, watch out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Mikey says:

    @matt bernius:

    That could happen again, though the question remains where would those people go?

    They have nowhere to go, except to split off a third party, which will guarantee Democrat wins for decades.

    The GOP will have to figure this out or become utterly irrelevant.

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