Political Animal


May 14, 2012 3:22 PM A Bogus Talking Point on Same-Sex Marriage

By Ed Kilgore

Those Republicans who aren’t demonizing the president for seeking to destroy the institution of marriage by making heterosexual couples share it are blasting him for a “cynical” political gesture that actually doesn’t separate his position from Mitt Romney’s. Here’s Ann Althouse’s suggested talking point for Republicans:

Marriage has long been a matter that belongs to states. Both Obama and Romney know that and know that it is not what the U.S. Presidency is about. They do not differ on the actual policy.

It must be getting around, because I heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck parrot it about fifteen times earlier today on The View when she was trying to respond to financial guru Suze Orman’s extravagant praise for Obama on the subject.

To be clear, Mitt Romney does not favor letting the states determine this question. He and the GOP (as of its 2008 platform) support a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage—and arguably any sort of civil unions. He’s also signed the pledge circulated by the preeminent anti-marriage-equality organization in the country, the National Organization For Marriage, which promises not only support for a federal constitutional ban, but also active support for enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act and appointment of “originalist” judges who won’t challenge “traditional marriage.”

Now you can make the argument that Republicans are not going to get their way on this subject and that as a practical matter the states will continue to determine marriage laws. If you can get Mitt Romney to publicly say he won’t lift a finger to oppose same-sex marriage at any level of government, then maybe there’s something to the argument, though that ain’t happening, and I don’t think you’ll find too many LGBT people—or their friends and family—who will say they don’t give a damn if the president of the United States thinks them worthy of equal rights, particularly now that Obama has broken the seal on the subject.

So please, let’s don’t hear any more of this “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” talk anymore about the presidential candidates and same-sex marriage.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • James E Powell on May 14, 2012 4:03 PM:

    If you can get Mitt Romney to publicly say he won’t lift a finger to oppose same-sex marriage at any level of government, then maybe there’s something to the argument

    So we should get somebody to ask him, "Do you oppose same-sex marriage at any level of government?" and see what he says.

  • c u n d gulag on May 14, 2012 4:10 PM:

    Yes, let the states decide.
    That's ALWAYS a good idea!

    If we did that with segregation, how many states would still have "separate, but equal' laws on the books?

    Probably the ones who were the last ones to come around on inter-racial marriage.
    And the same ones that are against homosexuals having any Civil Rights, let alone the right to marry.

    It took a SC decision to change that.
    Anyone want to bet that the Thomas Court will err on the side of the arc of justice?
    Well, maybe not - but there are a boatload of states that sure as sh*t won't.

    Maybe the SC will decided that "Gay is the new black!", and rule for them

  • Gregory on May 14, 2012 4:40 PM:

    The fact that the Republicans are getting their talking points from Ann Winebox shows again how woefully on the wrong side of this issue they are.

    That Republicans are disingenuously -- it *is* Althouse, after all -- trying to pretend that Obama agrees with Romney just confirms that they know it.

  • FlipYrWhig on May 14, 2012 4:53 PM:

    Seems to me like Obama's position is marriage is a state matter--but he wants all states to respect marriage equality; whereas Romney's position is, at best, that marriage is a state matter--but he wants all states to deny marriage equality. And even that isn't true when you take into account that Romney has said he would support a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from all states.

  • danimal on May 14, 2012 4:55 PM:

    Maybe it's time to put up for a vote the conservative constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. That should highlight the differences.

  • Califlander on May 14, 2012 5:08 PM:

    "My preference would be to have a national standard that would define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman." Mitt Romney, May 10, 2012


    Whatever he may think about other rights, I think he's pretty clearly cast his lot against same-sex marriage, at least for this election cycle.

  • Daddy Love on May 14, 2012 6:03 PM:

    But if Elizabeth Hasselbeck says it, it's true, right? Don't shake my world.

  • Mimikatz on May 14, 2012 6:22 PM:

    This is absolutely correct. I heard a network news reader say that Obama supports gay marriage and then for the "he said" that Romney supported traditional marriage. What a crock! Obama supports traditional marriage too! He's in one! Hello! And Romney doesn't just favor trad marriage, he opposes gay marriage and has several times come out in support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage for everyone, not a state-by-state solution. And he has backed off his previous support of adoptions by gay couples.

  • K in VA on May 15, 2012 8:10 AM:

    Right now, you can be married in one of the marriage-equality states and possess some state-level rights based on marriage. Travel to another state, though, and you become legal strangers the second you cross the state line. And don't even think about advancing your career through job opportunities in other states!

    States still have variations in their marriage laws on consanguinity (some states won't allow marriages between first cousins) or age of consent. That's fine; that's state rights. And that doesn't matter, given that a couple of male and female cousins can go to another state, marry, and move back home (or to any of 48 other states) as married folks, with all the local, state, and federal rights pertaining thereto.

    But same-sexs couples? I'd love to move to a marriage-equality state from bigoted, backwards Virginia, especially if the federal government would recognize our marriage. But be trapped in that state without rights in many other states? Be stuck in a trap that only catches same-sex couples?

    I don't think so. Either I'm an equal citizen of all the United States, or I remain a second-class citizen.

  • H-Bob on May 15, 2012 12:33 PM:

    Mitt Romney -- "Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman" ... "and between my grandfather and seven women"!

  • Anonymous on May 15, 2012 5:02 PM:

    I'm thinking of founding a group called "National Organization for Marriage for ALL." Who's with me?