Political Animal


March 21, 2013 11:23 AM South End of a North-Bound Brontosaurus

By Ed Kilgore

There’s a Manu Raju piece at Politico today on the growing gap between opinion on same-sex marriage between Congress (mainly among Republicans, but also among many red-state Democrats) and the country. Most conservative pols are mouthing the same platitudes on “traditional marriage” that worked for them a decade or two decades ago. But public opinion continues to move rapidly, notably as measured in the recent WaPo poll that shows Americans favoring legalized same-sex marriage by a 58-36 margin, with an astonishing 81% of those under 30 favoring same-sex marriage.

So Republicans in particular are being caught in a whirlwind on this issue, since their own rank-and-file still opposes marriage equality by a 59-34 margin (indies, by contrast, support it by a 62-32 margin, even though for a host of reasons they tend to tilt Republican these days). Meanwhile, Democrats taking their old and previously safe position of supporting every equality measure short of marriage are not only bucking overall public opinion, but no longer have much of a platform of Democratic public opinion on which to stand, with the Democratic rank-and-file now favoring legalized same-sex marriage by a 72-23 margin.

As Raju illustrates, congressional Republicans are mostly keeping their mouths shut on the issue unless pressed. A few, like retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, feel free to make the old bigoted jokes: “I’m not gay, so I’m not going to marry one.” Good one, Saxby; it ranks right down there with the old Christian Right knee-slapper, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” which I heard as recently as last summer at a big Christian Right clambake in Iowa attended by a host of big-time national Republican pols.

But the favorite dodge, particularly beloved of that “libertarian” folk hero Rand Paul, is simply to insist it’s a “state issue” and then change the subject. This may not work to keep the Christian Right happy too much longer if states continue to legalize same-sex marriage. It is, however, probably the best politicians can do when they realize they are the south end of a north-bound brontosaurus hurtling towards a choice between evolution or extinction.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on March 21, 2013 12:08 PM:

    It might make an intersting Doctoral Dissertation to see how much, if any, impact social media had in the rapid acceptance of Gay Rights, and gay marriage, in less than a decade.

    Its seemed like almost 2 decades after Loving v. Virginia, before inter-racial marriage was accepted by a majority of people in this country.

    And, you may remember it took a long time for the Civil Rights to be really accepted in America (well, most of it, anyway)?

    And it took MS only 148 years to pass The 13th Amendment.

    Republicans aren't used to effective wedge issues disappering so quickly.
    I think that's a large part of their confused reaction.

    Hell, while they were trying to set back the Civil Rights of black people back to 1859, here came Gay Rights, and whooshed right by them, like a Ferrari past a stalled Yugo.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on March 21, 2013 12:28 PM:

    Well, that would involve the GOTea admitting that marriage equality--much like the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, racial integration, civil rights, a black family in the White House, etc.--will not start the Armageddon count down.

    And we know how the Right just loves to admit they were wrong... *smirk*

  • boatboy_srq@hotmail.com on March 21, 2013 12:38 PM:

    A few, like retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, feel free to make the old bigoted jokes: Im not gay, so Im not going to marry one. Good one, Saxby; it ranks right down there with the old Christian Right knee-slapper, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, which I heard as recently as last summer at a big Christian Right clambake in Iowa attended by a host of big-time national Republican pols.

    Question for Sen. Chambliss: if the law (and Xtianity) permitted polygamy, since he's straight, would he automatically go out and seek a second wife just because he could do it legally? Really. If this is the level of a) GOTea comprehension of the SSM proposition and b) the level of GOTea empathy, it's no wonder the Teahad is disinterested in helping anyone.

  • R on March 21, 2013 12:41 PM:

    It seems some Republicans are redirecting their energies away from fighting equal marriage rights and toward fighting reproductive rights:

  • steverino on March 21, 2013 1:23 PM:

    And right after your speed and accuracy post yesterday, and the commenter who lamented how difficult it was to fact-check, you come up with "brontosaurus."

  • exlibra on March 21, 2013 1:24 PM:

    Well, I'm not gay either. So, like Chambliss, I wouldn't want to marry one. But neither would I like a gay person stopping me from marrying a person of my choice just because he happens to be hetero, like myself.

    I guess, unlike Chambliss, I'm aware that there are millions of other "centers of perfect universes", beyond my own self.

  • Kathryn on March 21, 2013 1:43 PM:

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss's level of discourse reminds me of the trolls that pollute this blog and the Maddow blog from time to time. Those wits who love to coin words such as Dumocrats and Obummer, real knee slappers.

  • Rich on March 21, 2013 2:23 PM:

    Libertarians occasionally talk a good game, but all they care about is tax cuts for the rich. On that, they'll stick-out their necks. On anything else, no. And as long as social conservatives support the libertarians tax cuts, the libertarians will happily let the social conservatives drive much of the agenda. No matter how much anyone says these conservatives are dead politically, they continue to exert muscle.

  • JonH on March 21, 2013 3:05 PM:

    I would like to think that the continuing lack of Divine Retribution for our collective failure to obey God's Law will cause the conservatives to re-think their basic notions. As Sgt. Gym Bunny notes, they're running out of Final Days. Too bad the Bible doesn't condemn the passing of regulations on the size of firearms magazines as something that is noisesome unto the Lord. (Though some righties seem unclear on this.)

    Perhaps a remnant will make a stand on the conviction that America will fall if we nationalize the banks, the railroads, the utilities, and the coal mines, and bravely struggle to prevent this.