Political Animal


May 08, 2013 10:39 AM Marriage Equality Deluge

By Ed Kilgore

Remarkably enough, it’s becoming difficult to keep up with the states legalizing same-sex marriage. Rhode Island, the tenth state to embrace marriage equality, got some attention because of impressive Republican support for the measure, and its completion of a regional marriage equality bloc across all the New England states. Delaware, number eleven (as of yesterday) barely got noticed. Minnesota and Illinois are the next states in line.

Aside from the crumbling opposition to marriage equality, its rapid acceptance as virtually a Democratic litmus-test requirement after the president finally changed his position last year is the most remarkable development. Some of the staunchest marriage-equality supporters, in fact, have been the kind of “centrist” Democratic pols (e.g., Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Jack Markell) who might have been expected to run in the opposite direction not that long ago.

As for Republicans, the private acknowledgement most conservatives make that they’ve lost the war on this subject is bleeding over into expectations; nobody was really all that shocked when a John Porter switched sides, and a recent national poll showed a majority of rank-and-file GOPers under the age of 50 supporting marriage equality. As a sign of respect for the Christian Right (and the Tea Party, which includes most of the same people), the party as a whole won’t change positions until they are given permission by conservative religious leaders, and that may never happen. But “brave” acts of dissent from individual Republican pols on this subject, at least outside the Deep South, are going to become routine, and even older conservative voters will learn to “overlook” heresies if given some reason (in many cases, the trajectory could resemble the slow but steady and then universal acceptance of politicians who have been divorced, which made a quantum leap among conservatives when Ronald Reagan became their hero).

At a time when so much of politics has become so regularly depressing, the momentum that has built up for marriage equality is a happy exception. We’ll keep counting the states that have finally begun to make things right until such time as we are merely counting the exceptions—or the courts make marriage equality the standard.

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 May 08, 2013 11:02 AM:

    Well, until the SCOTUS can prove that homophobes like Thomas, Alito, and Scalia are under control, pardon me if I don't celebrate.

  • Sean Scallon on May 08, 2013 11:03 AM:

    "and even older conservative voters will learn to “overlook” heresies if given some reason (in many cases, the trajectory could resemble the slow but steady and then universal acceptance of politicians who have been divorced, which made a quantum leap among conservatives when Ronald Reagan became their hero).

    In fact they already have, yesterday in South Carolina in all places. Ask yourself if, say, 10 years ago a politician like Sanford would have even won his party primary given what he did and the answer is probably no. Having basically said adultery and lying and stalking are no longer disqualifiers for your vote, is only a matter of time for SSM isn't either.

    I suspect the larger implication of yesterday's vote is that the "Christian Right's" days as separate, identifiable interest group are pretty much numbered. Such voters pretty much will fall back into a general conservative mass if they haven't already. The party of "family values"? You're not going to hear much of that talk anymore with persons like Sanford and Vitter in Congress elected by their constituents knowing full well their transgressions.

  • Mudge on May 08, 2013 11:04 AM:

    I suspect that soon all social conservatives (bigots) will move to Alabama (or Georgia) to marry and live in order to maintain the purity of their marriage. Colorado allows civil unions, but if they establish marriage equality, will all those religious right fanatics in Colorado Springs be forced to move, or will they be hypocrites.

    So many unanswered questions.

  • mellowjohn on May 08, 2013 12:57 PM:

    marriage equality passed the IL senate last february. unfortunately, a coalition of black ministers from chicago -- with help from the archdiocese -- are leaning on black house members to vote "no".
    at last count, i believe the bill was still 12 votes short.

  • gratuitous on May 08, 2013 1:13 PM:

    We're getting to that place we were when "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed. Just before President Obama signed the executive order, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the imminent demise of the beloved republic. Hordes of locusts, plagues of frogs, rivers running with the blood of innocents and your favorite movies wouldn't be available at Netflix were just some of the dire consequences predicted.

    Then the order was signed.

    In my mind, I thought, "You know, I'll bet it'll be about two weeks, and some enlightened individual on the reactionary right will say this was no big deal anyway." I was off by about nine days when indeed I saw some public pronouncement by an enlightened bigot opine that formal repeal of the policy was nothing to be jazzed about, it wasn't an issue anymore. I successfully fought the temptation to grab that person and shake him until his teeth rattled while screaming in his smug monkey face: "THEN WHY THE HELL WERE YOU AND YOUR COHORTS FIGHTING SO HARD AGAINST IT, DAMMIT?!"

    I suspect the same thing will happen with marriage equality as we near critical mass and societal acceptance washes over the bigotry. But my question will linger: If it was no big deal, why did you bigots pick this fight nearly 20 years ago?

  • rrk1 on May 08, 2013 1:44 PM:

    The die off of homophobic bigots over the past 20 years is largely responsible for the shift of public opinion on marriage equality, and homosexuality generally. The end of 'don't ask, don't tell' is probably a bigger factor than is generally accepted. With the right-wing military accepting gays it becomes much harder to maintain a second-class of private citizens.

    Now if only we could get all the neocons, reactionaries, revanchists, bigots, homophobes, racists, and misogynists to move to the South and secede, the remainder of the country could move into the 21st century with a functioning democracy.

  • JR on May 08, 2013 4:48 PM:

    As for those "brave" GOPers, will they be willing to share the fate of Illinois GOP party head, Pat Brady, who was pushed out of his job, due to his support of marriage equality.