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.
Really? For the counterargument, let’s turn to, er, the same story:
Much to the chagrin of many Democrats, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is spending millions of dollars on defending DOMA [...]
The House passed an amendment that prohibited chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on Navy bases. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) introduced the Marriage Protection Act of 2011, which banned federal courts from hearing same-sex marriage cases, instead kicking them to states. But even he said he didn’t expect anything to be done at the federal level.
”I still feel very strongly about that because I think it has a great deal to do with the stability of the whole country,” Burton said. “I don’t know that people’s opinions have changed that much, but what I think has happened is that people realize the dire straits this country has been in and they think we better deal with that before we get back to the social issues.”
Most Republicans maintain that the commitment is still there — but the time is not right.
“I don’t think there is any less commitment on the part of conservatives and Republicans to protect traditional America values,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee. “I think that’s still strong [...]”
And of course, there’s the corporatist Third Way giving Republicans cover:
“A lot of moderate Democrats would be scared to vote on DOMA,” Third Way’s Lanae Erickson said. “There was no question House Republicans were going to defend DOMA … but they made it as low profile as humanly possible.”
Spending millions to defend a law designed to keep gays as second-class citizens isn’t “low profile.” Not sure what else they’d expect Republicans to do—the law is already on the books, there’s nothing more to legislate. Now it’s a matter of resolving its dubious Constitutionality in the courts.
And of course, we can’t forget GOP-backed efforts to overturn marriage equality in Washington and Maryland, as well as efforts to keep it illegal from California, to North Carolina, to Maine and to pretty much everywhere in between.
And how about this iconic moment in the GOP presidential primaries, when audience members booed a gay servicemember and the candidates neither defended him, nor bothered to thank the soldier for his service to our country?
Meanwhile, back to Congress, Republicans recently opposed hate crime legislation, voted overwhelmingly against repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and are now opposing the routine reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it extends protections to same-sex couples. And if you think Republicans hate women, just imagine how much they hate homosexual women! When the Obama Administration nominated a pro-gay rights nominee for the ambassadorship to El Salvador, Republicans attempted to block her. She had the temerity to write positively about gays in an editorial.
If Republicans are toning down their anti-gay rhetoric, and I personally don’t see it, it’s because the electorate is focused on pocketbook issues and really can’t be bothered that conservatives find two guys kissing “icky.” Because unlike their counterparts across the pond, there still seems to be zero realization that demographically, their intolerance and hatred will make it difficult to win young voters who recoil against efforts to deny all Americans equal rights under the law.