Last wee, the folks from Pajamas Media asked me to write a piece on one of two topics, the recent statement by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee on reframing gay marriage as an economic issue and the determination of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to press the President’s Supreme Court nominee how he (or she) plans to adjudicate the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
As I considered both articles, I realized they both addressed (in a certain manner) the dilemma facing the GOP as it seeks to rebuild–how to respond to gay marriage. Here’s how I began my exploration of the issue:
With the California Supreme Court set to issue its ruling today on the validity of Proposition 8, a voter-approved initiative to define marriage in the Golden State as the union of one man and one woman, gay marriage will once again dominate the headlines. This issue has proven nettlesome for both parties. President Obama has tried to soft pedal his opposition to same-sex marriage by professing his support for “equivalent rights” (whatever that means) for gay people. Meanwhile, Scott Schmidt, a former senior strategist to the McCain campaign has urged Republican candidates to “steer clear of divisive social issues” like gay marriage and abortion in order to become more electorally “viable.”
At the same time as Schmidt advises the GOP to avoid gay marriage, citizens across the country continue to vote in favor of initiatives like Prop 8 which block states from recognizing same-sex unions as marriages. Despite such popular opposition, courts in four states (Massachusetts, California, Connecticut and Iowa) have ruled that their jurisdictions must recognize same-sex marriages (with Prop 8 invalidating the California ruling). State legislatures in three states (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) have passed legislation recognizing same-sex marriages (with New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor John Lynch vetoing the bill, “asking the legislature to include language that would protect churches and other religious institutions from prosecution if, for example, they refuse to perform same-sex marriages.“)
With gay marriage remaining at the forefront of our national consciousness, the Republican Party, seeking to rebuild after losses in two successive national elections, struggles to address the issue without alienating young voters and socially liberal urban and suburbanites who share the GOP’s fiscal and national security principles, but are wary of backing socially conservative candidates.
Now that I’ve whet your appetite, click here to read the rest.