If there has ever been a time to enshrine discrimination into our Constitution, the time is now. As the United States Supreme Court has now ruled that Article 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the defendants in the Proposition 8 case didn’t have standing to bring their case to the federal level, marriage equality sweeping across the United States is all but inevitable. Republicans are now in a frenzy to drum up support for a Constitutional amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. They’re already coming out in droves announcing a slippery slope into legalized polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia.
During the midterm elections next year, and in the 2016 United States Presidential election we are going to see a wedge between the two main political parties that will be polar opposites. The top tier Democrat candidates will support full marriage equality while the top tier Republicans will support a federal marriage amendment defining “traditional marriage.” If the Republican Party wants to remain a viable party at the federal level, they are going to have to redefine the way they handle the issue of marriage equality.
The latest attempt at enshrining discrimination into the United States Constitution comes from United States Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), who recently introduced the dead on arrival Marriage Protection Amendment. The bill seeks to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. While there is no chance of this bill gaining much steam, it shows Republicans are still determined to deny LGBT couples the same rights given to straight people under the law.
The problem with neo-conservative politicians continuing to adopt the stance of a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage is that it’s becoming an out-of-touch view. It’s no secret by now that people are changing their attitude towards marriage equality. While several years ago a majority of Americans supported amendments banning same-sex marriage, that view is quickly changing. Today, polls show a majority of Americans support marriage equality. In order for Republicans to continue to be viable political candidates, they must adopt a different attitude towards marriage equality.
In 2012, there were varying platforms represented on the stage of Republican presidential debates. The majority of the candidates supported a marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann ran almost exclusively on the anti-gay platform. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry both supported an anti-gay marriage amendment, but were less outspoken about the issue when compared to the other two candidates. Jon Huntsman, who is likely the most balanced candidate to run for president in recent history supported civil unions and domestic partnerships. Ron Paul didn’t believe the federal government should be in the business of marriage at all. Gary Johnson, who ended up dropping out of the Republican primary race to secure the Libertarian presidential nomination (and my vote for president) as well as little known candidate who was the first openly gay Republican candidate for president, Fred Karger both supported full marriage equality.
We’re likely to see a reemergence of Rick Santorum in 2016 along with several other candidates that, while not as outspoken on the issue of gay rights as Santorum will share the same sentiment. Democrats will bring candidates to their stage proclaiming their absolute support for marriage equality.
The clearest examples to illustrate the need for the Republican party to reexamine their stance on gay rights comes from four major ballot initiatives from 2012. Four states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington all had some sort of gay marriage initiative on the ballot, such as the legalization of marriage equality, upholding marriage equality or a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In each state the people voted on the side of marriage equality – an unprecedented pattern breaking the long line of people voting to ban same-sex marriage. People are slowly warming up to equality, and if the Republican party continues to be on the side of discrimination, the Republican party will be on the losing end of the race for the White House and many House, Senate and Governorships throughout the United States over the next few years.
The answer to the Republican’s gay marriage problem is quite simple. We’re never going to get 100% Republican support for marriage equality. Some Republican senators such as Mark Kirk of Illinois, Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski and the senator from Ohio, Rob Portman have come out in support of marriage equality, but there will always only be a small minority of Republicans supporting gay marriage. In order for the Republican party to remain a powerful source, they must distance themselves from dealing with marriage equality at all by the federal government. I have advocated this for many years. While I believe gay rights must be dealt with by the federal government, the Republican party ought to adopt one of the pillars of the Republican party; leave it up to the states. In order for the Republican party to continue to be a relevant political party in America, they must adopt a federal laissez-faire attitude towards marriage equality. They must believe in leaving the issue of marriage equality up to each individual state. In this manner, they can stick to their ignorant principles while not looking too extreme to the more moderate voters.
I don’t expect to see my advice for the Republican Party to go anywhere beyond this blog, but my advice is one of the most important ideas the Republican party can adopt to increase their chances of maintaining or gaining seats in the House and Senate in 2014 and 2016 as well as reclaiming the White House in 2016.