2016 And The Politics Of Same-Sex Marriage

Republicans running for President need to tread carefully in their responses if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

Gay Marriage Wedding Cake Two Women

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that a majority of Americans would support a Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide:

A majority of American voters say they would back a Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry, according to a national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Among 1,711 registered voters nationwide, 56 percent said they would support such a decision, while 38 percent would oppose it. Among Democrats, 70 percent would back such a ruling, compared to 24 percent who would not.

Among independents, 61 percent would support a ruling, compared with 34 percent who would not. Republicans are the only subset who would oppose such a ruling, with only 34 percent responding that they would be in favor.

A Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is expected by the end of the month.

These numbers are consistent with other polling we’ve seen on this issue, including an NBC News poll released last month that showed majority support for the Supreme Court’s expected decision, and a Gallup poll that showed support for same-sex marriage above 60% for the first time. In that sesne, I suppose, they really aren’t much of a surprise. What makes them important, I think, is what they potentially tell us about how the politics of the Court’s expected decision will likely play out after it is handed down later this month. To the extent that Republican politicians are even talking about same-sex marriage any more, and many of them are avoiding the subject altogether unless they are speaking to an audience that is explicitly socially conservative, they are avoiding the old rhetoric that we used to hear from the right and instead concentrating on two issues. The first, of course, is the “religious liberty” argument and the cases involving vendors who have run afoul of anti-discrimination laws when they refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding reception. As we learned in Indiana, though, that is politically dangerous given the fact that most Americans outside of that one segment of the Republican party oppose the laws that have been proposed to exempt those types of business owners from otherwise generally applicable laws. The second argument that some Republican candidates have been making strikes me as even more politically risky, though. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, for example, have argued that the states essentially have the right ignore the Supreme Court if it legalizes same-sex marriage. In addition to having no legal merit whatsoever, it strikes me that this is an argument that the American public is likely to reject overwhelmingly.

What poll numbers like this suggest is that Republicans will need to be very careful about how they respond to the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling. Because they are in the heat of a Presidential contest, the temptation will be to take the route that people like Marco Rubio, Huckabee, and Carson have taken and appeal to the hard-core socially conservative base of the party. While that may be a wise political decision in the short term for some of these candidates, it probably isn’t going to go over very well in the long term among more socially liberal Republicans and Independents who will be voting not only in the upcoming primary contests but also in the General Election.

Mark McKinnon, who was behind John McCain’s 2008 campaign and has since then been part of efforts to urge a more moderate tone in the Republican Party, makes this excellent point:

Negative national headlines on religious freedom continue to fuel a negative image of the entire party. Both in my private conversations with and in public (and private) polling, conservatives are moving ever closer to supporting full equity for LGBT Americans. Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll released last month showed a more than 20 percentage-point increase since 2001 in Americans (63 percent) who believe “gay and lesbian relations” are “morally acceptable”. You don’t get to a supermajority like that without Republicans. Even Texas conservatives support protecting gay and transgender folks from employment discrimination.

Republicans, like the rest of Americans, support nondiscrimination laws because most of us have gay family members, friends and co-workers and want to treat them as we would want to be treated. And having heard from moms and dads who want this great country to treat their gay child just like their straight child has been a powerful narrative. It really is all about family standing up for one another. Most people believe equality under the law can and does work well alongside protecting religious freedom — which must be and is protected, even cherished, in our Constitution.

McKinnon’s fellow Republicans would do well to listen to him rather than to the voices from the far right that will try to push them into retrenchment in the months ahead.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans would do well to listen to him rather than to the voices from the far right

    Hahahahahahaha…….

  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    So Republicans can not listen to the far right, be instantly labeled RINOs and Hillary-lovers and secret Obama-worshipers and be primaried into oblivion if they hold office, and be instantly forgotten (anyone heard from John Huntsman?)…OR they can listen to the far right fever swamp, repeat it ad infinitum, and have a comfortable sinecure for the rest of their life from the right wing media/PR machine, along with lucrative offers from Wall St and lobbying firms.

    Look, I get the yearning for a Rational Republican Savior, a la David Frum and Andrew Sullivan…but I’m sorry to say, the Tea Party worked. They successfully purged all compromise and decency from the GOP. So the Right has currently 2 options…Total Victory or Total Dysfunction. Their own rhetoric won’t allow anything else. That’s what you get when you double down constantly on issues such as gay marriage.

    That’s why a lot of us yawn at Democratic corruption and cronyism and nepotism and military jingoism. It’s not that we don’t care about those issues; we do. But God Almighty, at least our party is relatively grounded in REALITY and SANITY. At least they try to make government WORK and FUNCTION. At least they give a glimmer of thought to which way the historical wind is blowing.

    Who wants to say that the Republican party, as it is now, does those things?

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    Republicans, like the rest of Americans, support nondiscrimination laws because most of us have gay family members, friends and co-workers and want to treat them as we would want to be treated

    This is a telling quote, as it illustrates the point that for a lot of conservatives, it only becomes possible to support civil rights when they, or someone they know personally, is discriminated against.

    For many of us, we don’t support nondiscrimination laws because of we have family members, friends and co-workers who would be affected — we support them because it’s the right thing for everyone, period, even if we or our own reap no personal benefit.

    It goes to the heart of what’s wrong with a lot of conservatives — the lack of imaginative empathy. They can’t just imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. It’s good for them, I suppose, that they’ve come around on gay rights after discovering so many of the people they’re close to are gay — now if only they could discover that their family members are also unemployed minority women with a disability, and maybe they’ll come around on those issues too….

  4. sam says:

    Ha! I just found out where James P. is posting from. See, The Agency.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @James P:
    Dude…your comments are getting deleted because you have been banned from this website.
    So I’m curious…what kind of perverse pleasure do you get from being a troll? Please explain before you disappear again.

  6. Franklin says:

    For the moderate Republican who wins the nomination (and I guarantee it will be one of the more moderate ones), the Supreme Court is the savior here. “Well, not much to say, as it’s already been decided …”

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    You people are so trapped in your ideology and desire to condone freakish and deviant behavior that you can’t or won’t see the slippery slope.

    I would comment on this if I could think of anything funnier than the sentence itself.

  8. Roger says:

    @James P:

    What do you think destroyed the Roman Empire? It wasn’t the Visigoths, Vandals, or Ostrogoths. The fall of Rome was more related to the behavior of people like Caligula and Nero. When you celebrate homosexuality and freakshows like Bruce Jenner, that is the path on which you are putting the United States.

    Not that it really matters, but Caligula and Nero both died in the first century, and the Roman Empire continued to gain in power long after they and their hideous behavior ended. The decadent repulsive Rome right-wingers love to revile thrived. It was Christian Rome that fell to the barbarians. If you must draw a lesson from the history of Rome, let’s look at its imperial overreach, excessive military spending, reliance on mercenary troops, and failing economy. You know, the things that actually existed at the time it fell.

  9. Jeremy R says:

    Rand Paul speaking in support of so-called “Religious Liberty / Freedom” laws:

    http://thepulse2016.com/maggie-gallagher/2015/04/09/rand-paul-speaks-for-religious-freedom/

    Sen. Paul opposing marriage equality (because he finds it personally offensive) to FNC’s Bret Baier:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDWzKIoeT3s

    “I’m for traditional marriage. I think marriage is between a man and a woman. Ultimately, we could have fixed this a long time ago if we just allowed contracts between adults. We didn’t have to call it marriage, which offends myself and a lot of people. I think having competing contracts that would give them equivalency before the law would have solved a lot of these problems, and it may be where we’re still headed.”

    Sen. Paul speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, describing a role for both government and evangelicals in fighting marriage equality:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV_kt9PRNKE

    “Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything. In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country, there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage, there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage. And so, really there’s a role outside and inside government but the exhortation to sort of change people’s thoughts has to come through the countryside, from outside of Washington.”

    “We need a revival in the country, you know? We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.”

    This is all from just the last couple months.

  10. stonetools says:

    Doug is surely exasperated that the Republican Party can’t see the light on same sex marriage in general and social policy in particular. It means he can’t in good conscience vote for the party that supports his economic policy preferences (“tax reform ” for the rich and other “free market” policies). So he posts over and over columns asking the Republicans to abandon a politics that’s working for them-appealing to the bigoted masses so that their candidates can get elected and then turn around and shower favors on big business and wealthy.
    Hey Doug, guess what? If you want the Republicans to change, announce long and loudly that you are voting for the Democrats because you don’t want to see Republicans running for and winning elections on anti gay platforms and then acting to victimize gays when they win. Your gay friends would thank you for stepping up to help them in a way likely to be far more effective than pleading with the Republicans to do the right thing.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    A majority of American voters say they would back a Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry, according to a national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

    No, they didn’t. And that’s a good thing, because it would be a dumb thing to back, given that the Supreme Court does not have the power to “allow a constitutional right to marry” (POLITICO’s terminology) or “grant same-sex couples the right to marry” (Quinnipiac’s language).

    Fortunately, the actual question from the poll was much less ineptly worded:

    The U.S. Supreme Court could decide that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, which would have the effect of legalizing same sex marriage throughout the country. Would you support or oppose the Supreme Court taking this action?

    This is what the Court can do — they can recognize that a right has existed all along, but has been ignored or denied. It’s not a particularly subtle distinction; phrasing it in terms of the Court granting a new right is either a sign of bias or incredibly sloppy.

  12. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The 14th has been there since 1868 and the 5th since the founding. The legal framework had always been there.

    What is gobsmacking the R’s at this point is that the are making the same argument they’ve made since Anita Bryant was Miss Oklahoma, but it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t resonate the way it used to. It doesn’t automatically “win.” It doesn’t stifle the debate.

    What used to be the winning argument is now seen as retrograde at best and hateful at worst.

    The smart move is for Republicans to just drop it. But I’m not sure that they can. The base demands the shibboleth. “Say the words, say the words, damnit!” This may well be the the hill they’re going to die on. The smart ones want to run away from the issue, but they also know you can’t get to the general without winning the primary. And winning the primary means that anyone less than 50 years old with a circle of friends larger than two won’t vote for you in the general election because you voiced, or supported, or you are tagged with freakishly retrograde opinions about gay Americans based upon your party affiliation.

    Hoist with your own petard.

    2015 Karl Rove must be looking back at 2004 Karl Rove with shock. The winning argument, the defining argument, has turned completely.

    Unless they drop this or fix this we may be looking at at generational realignment.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    The 14th has been there since 1868 and the 5th since the founding. The legal framework had always been there.

    Of course — my complaint was strictly about the wording of the reportage, not about actual facts of the case before SCOTUS.

  14. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Dude…your comments are getting deleted because you have been banned from this website.
    So I’m curious…what kind of perverse pleasure do you get from being a troll? Please explain before you disappear again.

    “Trolls just want to have fun.” (by Erin E. Buckels , Paul D. Trapnell, Delroy L. Paulhus)

    PDF Link

    Abstract:

    In two online studies (total N= 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

  15. charon says:

    @James P:

    You people are so trapped in your ideology and desire to condone freakish and deviant behavior that you can’t or won’t see the slippery slope.

    There is no slippery slope. The slippery slope is a logical fallacy.

  16. Grumpy Realist says:

    @charon: yeah, as a woman, I’m extremely suspicious of slippery slope arguments. And Natural Law arguments. And gee, isn’t it amazing how all these arguments invariably lead to the speaker of said arguments being on top of the heap of power and everyone else on the bottom….

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: I must disagree as it is quite obvious that James P long ago slid down the slippery slope to stupidity.

  18. Another Mike says:

    @DrDaveT:

    phrasing it in terms of the Court granting a new right is either a sign of bias or incredibly sloppy.

    I don’t know about this. It seems that court decisions have always been called decisions. I would say that your pointing this out is itself evidence of bias. Even if we take as self evident that people have a right to marry, there is still the issue of what marriage is. If marriage can be whatever we decide it is at the moment, then that goes against it being a right. Something so slippery and changing cannot be a right in my view.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Another Mike:

    It seems that court decisions have always been called decisions. I would say that your pointing this out is itself evidence of bias.

    Um… what? Did you actually read what I wrote? It had nothing to do with the word ‘decision’, and everything to do with the difference between granting a right and recognizing an existing right. What the court will be deciding is not whether to create a new right, but whether such a right already existed.

    It’s like the difference between deciding to change your name to “Fred”, versus determining that your legal name has been “Fred” all along. Not at all the same thing.

  20. KM says:

    @Another Mike :

    If marriage can be whatever we decide it is at the moment, then that goes against it being a right. Something so slippery and changing cannot be a right in my view.

    Then how do you justify free speech as a right? It’s nebulous and changing by your defintion, always in the courts as the parameters put in place move and shift with the times (see profanity laws or anything relating to clothing). I think your issue isn’t with viewing it as a right but as an institution. Marriage in this country is very much a legal entity as well as a religious one and every single time it comes up, both sides slip back into institutional arguments by default.

    The changes you refer to are institutional, structural and ultimately fungible in nature – the fundamental right is universal and unchanging. One of the most persistent anti-arguments even uses this as it’s bedrock – that since gay men can marry gay women, gays are not being discriminated against. Well, then if gays can marry as a fundamental right, why can’t gay man marry gay man? Oops! Institutional rule says no. Well, then the rule must go since it infringes on the essential right. Marriage laws change all the time, what’s so special about this one other then you don’t want it to go away?

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Another Mike: Dude, it’s quite obvious you’re not a lawyer. What do you think rights ARE except for things that get deliminated due to custom and changing law?!

    Take any so-called “right” you please, and I will guarantee that the boundaries of said right has changed over time. In fact, our definition as to how far the right will extend (its “definition”) is most likely determined by our changing legal opinions and history of court cases.

    Stop believing in Platonic ideals of rights–they don’t exist.

  22. Another Mike says:

    @KM:

    Then how do you justify free speech as a right?

    Well, I don’t have to justify free speech. That’s the beauty of free speech, it has always existed as part of nature and was affirmed in Amendment I of the Constitution.

    Same goes for the right to keep and bear arms. U.S. v. Cruikshank in 1876 explained that the First Amendment and the Second Amendment rights were not granted or created by the constitution, They existed prior to the constitution.

    Both amendments have been limited by legislatures, not be the constitution itself.

    There is probably a natural right to marry a person of the opposite sex which has been recognized since time immemorial. If it were not for the children, the state would not even have an interest in this though.

    What is really being asked for is not that the state recognize marriage as a right, but the state recognize same-sex relationships as marriage.

    The justification is that since some opposite-sex marriages do not produce children, why can’t two people of the same-sex marry and also not produce children? There is an answer, of course, but there is no need to get into it now with a court decision imminent.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Another Mike: I have to say even in disagreement you’re consistently thoughtful and respectful in your comments.

    As to this issue, I think it is following a pattern that has existed in America for a long time: a right is recognized and extended to a group to which it was previously denied.