A person could get whiplash trying to keep up with what’s going on with the GOP’s changing attitudes toward same-sex marriage! Last week, the first-ever GOP sponsor of a marriage equality bill emerged in the form of Minnesota State Senator Branden Petersen. In response, the National Organization for Marriage came out swinging on Monday, making this statement:
“Republicans like Branden Petersen don’t realize that not only is voting to redefine marriage a terrible policy, it is also a career-ending vote for a Republican. NOM will do everything in our power to defeat any Republican who votes in favor of same-sex marriage. Legislators need look no further than what happened to GOP Senators in New York. Four of them were responsible for passing gay marriage. We helped take out three of those Senators by repeatedly informing their constituents of their betrayal on marriage. They are now out of office. We will not hesitate to do the same thing in Minnesota.”
But by the end of Monday, yet another development–perhaps the most significant one yet–had occurred. According to the New York Times, seventy-five prominent Republicans signed a legal brief to be submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that marriage is a constitutional right for all people, whatever their sexual orientation. The position bucks the party line, including the position of House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican Congressmen who recently increased funding to defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
The brief, to be filed with SCOTUS this week, is intended to bolster the case against California’s Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether to strike down the voter initiative in March, followed by another gay rights case that challenges the constitutionality of DOMA. The signatories of the brief include two current members of Congress, former top advisers to George W. Bush, four former governors like Jon B. Huntsman, Jr. of Utah, former candidate for California governor, Meg Whitman, and several scores of others.
The basic argument contained in the brief is that acknowledging the validity of same-sex marriage promotes the conservative values of limited government and individual freedom. In addition, it strengthens families by allowing the children of such unions to grow up in two-parent homes. Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, recently out-of the-closet gay, and board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, put it this way:
“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8.” [Source]
Signatory Margaret Hoover, an author and Republican political strategist, said in an interview with the NY Times:
“We can’t be exclusionary in regard to these social issues.”
[To view video of Margaret Hoover interview at The New York Times, click here.]
And that’s where the handwriting is on the wall for the GOP, regardless of traditionalists like John Boehner. The newspaper cites recent polls that say 70 percent of voters under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage. No one can deny the reality that the young are the future–of the party and of the country. To exclude them from consideration would be political suicide.
But the person that the signatories to the brief most want to convince of the discrimination issues, currently sits on the Supreme Court. Tom Goldstein, lawyer and publisher of Scotusblog, says:
“The person who is going to decide this case, if it’s going to be close, is going to be a conservative justice who respects traditional marriage but nonetheless is sympathetic to the claims that this is just another form of hatred. If you’re trying to persuade someone like that, you can’t persuade them from the perspective of gay rights advocacy.” [Source]
Perhaps someone looking to guarantee that he leaves a legacy. John Roberts, anyone?