Founded by Drew Pearson 1932
Same sex marriage and the GOP
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – It’s hard to think of any other public policy where attitudes have moved as quickly and dramatically as they have on gay marriage or of its impact on GOP presidential politics. A majority of Americans are now in favor of same sex couples having the right to marry, and politicians in both major political parties are positioning themselves for the next election when opposition to gay marriage will cost votes, not the other way around.
Hillary Clinton’s decision to announce her unqualified support for marriage equality in a video message this week is seen as an early step toward a likely presidential run in 2016. The Supreme Court next week will hear challenges to Prop 8 in California and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) signed by President Clinton in what he says was a defensive move to head off even more discriminatory legislation.
The earth is moving on the Republican side too with Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s revelation that he now supports gay marriage after learning two years ago that his college-age son is gay. Portman was on the short list for vice president in 2012, and presumably still harbors ambition for higher office. By declaring himself so publicly and prominently for marriage equality, he has made a clear break with the far right of his party, a declaration of independence that could serve him well in the future.
The GOP is in the grip of its farthest right members at a time when the country has moved toward more social inclusion and away from the religious right intolerance that motivated the Republican base for so long. The report unveiled by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus this week, which is titled “Growth and Opportunity Project,” takes some significant steps towards structural reform but doesn’t attempt to overhaul the party’s policies, a task that is beyond the capability of the RNC, and would require the involvement of GOP leaders at a time when the iconic conservative magazine, National Review, despairs in an editorial that the party is “leaderless and issueless.”
This is the first time in a long while that the party has not had a clear candidate in waiting, some elder whose turn it is to win the nomination and lead the GOP. Mitt Romney was that person in 2012 although it took the party a long time to reconcile his rich guy moderate persona with the strident conservatism that prevails in the GOP.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is emerging as the folk hero on the right, just as his father, former Rep. Ron Paul has been for the last two presidential elections. Paul is clearly angling to run and he will have a following, though it’s hard to see how someone who espouses such far-right libertarian views could win a national election.
Another Tea Party favorite, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, seems to have more maneuvering room to expand his appeal in part due to his Cuban heritage and his leadership role in the Senate on immigration reform. He and Paul may have to duke it out for which one best represents the Tea Party, a fight that could be decisive in the primaries when choosing a candidate who could actually win a national election is the GOP’s challenge.
In the RNC report, Priebus recommends fewer debates so the candidates won’t have each other to kick around for the better part of a year. More moderate candidates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christi and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will have a tough time getting through a primary process dominated by the right, but a less known moderate like Portman, newly positioned on the hottest social issue of modern times, might be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing GOP.
© 2013 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND