Finding a ‘Moderate’ Gay Marriage Position as Goalposts Shift

Jeb Bush, the new GOP presidential front-runner (but at this early stage, don’t bet the ranch), weighed in on gay marriage. What he said marks a welcome shift toward moderation in line with statements by other GOP governors of late (including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, among others), and is in marked contrast to earlier Bush statements (actually, in contrast to his statements of just a few days earlier).

Republicans who are not creatures of the religious right like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that a moderate position on gay marriage for most Americans today (as opposed to four or eight years ago) is the freedom to marry.

As reported by the paper of record:

As gay couples began to wed in Florida after a court ruling, Jeb Bush, the state’s former governor and long an opponent of same-sex marriages, struck a conciliatory note on Monday, telling The New York Times that “regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.” …

Mr. Bush’s comments suggested a tepid acceptance of the new legal status, or at least an acknowledgment that there is little he can do to block it.

“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue—including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

The Times further noted:

His remarks were markedly more sympathetic to same-sex marriage than comments he made to The Miami Herald on Sunday as he left a golf course. “It ought be a local decision—I mean, a state decision,” Mr. Bush told The Herald. “The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess.”

Gay rights leaders said they found Mr. Bush’s statement on Monday encouraging. Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a group that has pushed for same-sex marriage, said that “most Republican politicians have been adamant in their opposition and provide no room for evolution.” Mr. Bush “at least is expressing his respect for those who support marriage equality,” Mr. Sainz said. “That’s a big change for Republicans.”

And on this point, I must agree with HRC.

According to a look at Bush’s statement and the responses to it by Business Insider, “Jeb Bush Changes His Tune On Gay Marriage“:

Bush was clearly attempting to strike a moderate tone with his statement. The Miami Herald’s Mark Caputo, one of the foremost experts on Sunshine State politics, described it as having a “neither too-hot-nor-cold Goldilocks quality.” However, it was still a marked shift from his past comments on gay marriage.

LGBT Democrats will complain that tepid acceptance is no longer acceptable. Indeed, according to Business Insider:

“Jeb Bush remains as out of touch as ever with Floridians and voters nationwide on the civil rights issue of our time,” the [Florida Democratic Party’s] chair, Allison Tant, said in a statement. “Bush championed these discriminatory policies as governor, and it’s a shame that he remains determined to stand for the forces of bigotry.”

This, of course, ignores that just a few years ago their beloved Clintons were also opposed to same-sex marriage, as for that matter was Barack Obama, but let’s not get sidetracked into the swamp of LGBT Democratic hypocrisy.

We conclude that accepting the inevitable is indeed a sign of progress for the leading presidential contenders from the nation’s conservative party.

More. Chain reaction: Marco Rubio now says about gay marriage: Courts are weighing in and “whatever the law is, we’re going to abide by it and respect it.” He doesn’t want to be out-Bushed!

I should add that I find it increasingly difficult to take N.J. Gov. Chris Christie seriously, but let’s note that his tone about gay marriage is more antagonistic that the latest statements from Bush and even Rubio. Christie is willing to accept the inevitable in New Jersey but calls on the GOP to continue fighting against the freedom to marry nationally. That attempt to court social conservatives who aren’t going to support him anyway shows, again, how out of touch he is.

Furthermore. Mitt Romney, who apparently still supports a federal constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage nationally, looks likely to challenge Bush for the center right space. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out. The divergence is being noted. The Independent reports:

This week [Bush] also set himself apart from many conservatives (and Mr Romney) on gay marriage. While not fully endorsing same-sex marriage, he said in a statement that rulings by court judges allowing it, as has just happened in Florida, should be respected by everyone. “We live in a democracy,” he said, “and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.”

62 Comments for “Finding a ‘Moderate’ Gay Marriage Position as Goalposts Shift”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I support any sign of moderation from the Republican Party. I do not expect the Republican Party to do a 180 on marriage equality at this point.

    The best I expect is a statement like the statement made by JEB: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.” It is sufficient for this election cycle.

    I don’t think that the Republican Party will ever have a platform plank supporting marriage equality. The issue will quietly slide off the table, and we will be fighting the “code” battles — “religious freedom”, “activist judges”, “left to the states”.

    So be it. Bring it on.

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      Yep — the “conciliatory” statement was chock full of dog-whistles.

      Stephen and other homocons refuse to hear them as it would conflict with their pseudo-libertarian principles supporting discriminatory carve-outs for certain people to discriminate freely against LGBT people.

  2. posted by Houndentenor on

    If this is an example of the Jeb Bush 2016 campaign style, he shouldn’t waste his and others’ money running for president. No one could possibly be satisfied with such an answer. It’s not even a compromise. It’s a nothing.

    And yes, the goalposts have shifted. Political goalposts usually do. Complaining that Democrats used to make similarly frustrating statements 8 or more years ago misses the point. Democrats have “evolved” on this and other issues. Since most of the Republican candidates will claim not to believe in evolution, I suspect that any movement on gay rights issues is not going to happen this time around. I think Tom is wrong, though. Republicans are going to come around on this issue but it’s going to take awhile. This is a loser for them and even the religious right is going to figure that out eventually (meaning, as soon as it stops being a money-maker for them which already seems to be happening).

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I think Tom is wrong, though. Republicans are going to come around on this issue but it’s going to take awhile.

      I hope you are right. I’ve been wrong before, and sometimes it is good to be wrong. I expected that it would be at least 2020, and more likely 2025, before we won marriage equality nationwide. And here we are, looking forward to this summer.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Oh, it’s not going to be 2016. The consensus on the right is that McCain and Romney each lost because they weren’t conservative enough. The pressure from primary voters is going to be towards the right, not to the middle. I expect a dangerously wingnut candidate next year. Wall Street and the like will do their best to keep Cruz or some other nutjob from getting the nomination but I’m not sure there’s anything they can do this time.

  3. posted by Lori Heine on

    Bush is doing what human beings always do when they’re on the losing end of a battle: trying to save face and look less like a loser. This is what they’re all going to do, in one way or another, each at his or her own speed.

    The latest Jeb rhetoric is still based on the lie that all Christians who regard marriage as a sacrament will automatically be heterosexual and opposed to gay marriage. He and his ilk will eventually lose in the churches, just as they are in the legislatures and the courts. In the meantime, it’s typical loser spin.

    These people will not simply evaporate into the ozone. A lot of them will refuse to go quickly or quietly. This will be cited by leftists as proof that the religious right is just as strong and scary as ever. Homocons, meanwhile, will blow trumpets and shout hosannahs about how wonderfully reasonable conservatives are being.

    It’s all just spin. Part of the game, and no more believable than the plot of any other bad soap opera.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      It’s all just spin. Part of the game, and no more believable than the plot of any other bad soap opera.

      I’ll grant you that a lot of politics is spin, and always has been. But spin has consequences, because politicians get locked into the spin, and policies result.

      The current “moderate” Republican spin formula (“The courts have spoken and we must respect the law. I personally support traditional marriage and believe that the matter should be left up to the people/legislatures/states, not imposed by unelected judges, and while we must respect the law, we should protect the religious freedom of those who, like me, believe that traditional marriage is a sacrament.“) is a formula that is less destructive, certainly, than the spin that is coming out of the hard-core anti-gay wing of the party, which conjures up bills to remove federal court jurisdiction over “culture war” issues, beats the drum of “taking back” marriage, and makes ugly noises about nullification.

      Nonetheless, the “moderate” Republican position will have consequences. The formula is almost certain to lock the Republican Party into a decade-long battle to “protect religious freedom” by promoting religious — not conscientious, but religious — objection to laws of general application, further inflating the value of religious conscience and devaluing the role of personal conscience. The formula is likely to lead the Republican Party into a series of battles relating to limiting/curtailing the jurisdiction of the federal courts over constitutional issues. The formula, by attributing the change in law to the whims of “unelected judges” rather than the constitutional demand that citizens be treated equally under the law. The formula is certain to lead to intense pressure for “vetting” judges and Justices on “culture war” issues. And so on.

      The policy positions resulting from the “moderate” Republican spin, in short, will prolong the battle we’ve been fighting to have gays and lesbians treated like other citizens — “equal means equal” — rather than as men and women apart from mainstream culture, and help fan the well-tended flames of conservative resentment toward gays and lesbians.

      To my mind, all one has to do is look at the rhetoric of this blog to see the damage that the “moderate” position is likely to do. We can’t go a week, it seems, without having gays and lesbians described as “intolerant”, vindictive “poor winners” determined to stamp out dissent, and enemies of “religious freedom”. I don’t even have to go to the heated and excessive rhetoric about “Robspierre” to make the point.

      And this is coming from a self-described “libertarian” who is said to be, by Craig123 and others who are on the conservative side of the commentators, a champion of gays and lesbians. If that is what is coming from the champions, it doesn’t take much imagination to see what is going to come from the detractors.

      But, it seems to me, the part of the “moderate” formula that is most important in the long run is the part that demands “respect for the rule of law”. If that holds, then things will work out in time. Americans are, at core, a fair-minded people who value equal treatment under the law, and the drumbeat of rhetoric depicting gays and lesbians as “other” and un-American will, in time, be rejected.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        It’s hard to be a “poor winner” when we haven’t even won yet. This is going to the Supreme Court and we have no guarantee of what will happen then. No, the problem is that Evangelicals don’t actually think that anyone else has any authority. For all their coalition building with Catholics and Mormons on social issues the reality is that they think both of those groups are cult members bound for hell. They actually believe it about most of the other Evangelicals as well. I say this from having heard it from pulpits and not just when I was a kid but recently.

  4. posted by James in Chicago on

    So Jeb Bush – the smart one! – believes marriage in the United States is a sacrament. Seems that the Smart One must think we’re fighting for weddings in anti-gay churches. Or doesn’t the Smart One know that religious creed has always been totally irrelevant in this country in regard to legally recognized marriage? At the same time it’s his opinion that the will of the majority should be decisive. Because that’s how we Americans decide what is and is not holy, I guess! Oh, and that’s quite the sign of moderation on the part of the Smart One that he wants the rule of law ultimately to be respected. Good to know! Finally, the Smart One isn’t at all well informed about his own religion. If he were, he’d know that none other than Paul of the Epistles had a decidedly low opinion of marriage and perhaps he’d even know that the Christian sacrament of marriage wasn’t dreamt up until the 13th century.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      So Jeb Bush – the smart one! – believes marriage in the United States is a sacrament.

      JEB is Roman Catholic, and the marriage of two Christians is a sacrament in Catholic theology.

      I don’t fault JEB for his religious belief about the sacramental nature of Christian marriage.

      I do fault him for failing to recognize, as the Church does, that marriages exist that are non-sacramental, and extending the principle to civil law marriage. The Church does not recognize the marriage of two atheists as a sacramental Christian marriage. Or the marriage of two Jews, or two Muslims. Or the marriage of a Christian and a non-believer.

      By conflating all marriages as sacramental, and failing to distinguish between sacramental and non-sacramental marriages, JEB is dumbing down Catholic theology.

      • posted by James in Chicago on

        Yes, I’m well aware as someone who grew up Catholic that there’s such a thing as sacramental marriage, also called holy matrimony, and it’s absolutely irrelevant in the United States to our battle for marriage equality. We’re not seeking to compel any church to join gay couples in holy matrimony. We’re seeking a change in marriage law and where the law is concerned in this country there is no sacramental aspect to marriage. What Bush and so many other bigoted right-wing Christians cynically attempt to do is confuse the matter in people’s minds by speaking as though legally recognized marriage in this country weren’t a strictly secular affair.
        PS. The Catholic Church needs no help from Jeb Bush in dumbing itself down and generally seeming irrational. Their political alliance with evangelical Protestants accomplished that years ago.

  5. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    Had the Florida Governor made such a statement in the late 1990s or when his brother was pushing for the Constitutional ban on gay marriage/civil unions… might have been an early sign of real presidential-ready leadership.

    Now? It basically amounts to how much can be mined out of the great big boil of bigotry. Some will keep mining until the proverbial cows come home.

    Others will recognize the shift in the law and elecorate….while hoping to still mine a wee bit of….”kinder, gentler”

  6. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on


    Stephen makes it seem like the chair of the Florida Democratic Party is LGBT or has some significant sway with the segment of LGBT voters who are progressive or center-left……….

  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Setting aside the calibrations of JEB’s political positioning for a moment (as fascinating as that may be), several legal developments are worth at least a mention:

    (1) Florida

    Marriage equality has commenced in Florida, after long and protracted maneuvering by the state’s AG, Pam Bondi, to prevent it, and efforts by the County Clerk’s Association and its social conservative allies to throw a monkey wrench. By my count, Florida brings us to 37 states now, comprising 72% of the US population. Congratulations to Don and his espoused, and all the other Floridians who worked long and hard to bring marriage equality to Florida.

    (2) 11th Circuit

    The state having indicated yesterday that it will not file a further reply brief in the federal case, the Florida federal marriage equality case is now ready to be taken up by the 11th Circuit. We can expect the court to schedule a hearing on the case, with a decision coming down the road. The 11th Circuit is a conservative citcuit, but a good panel – Judges Adalberto Jordan, Frank Hull and Charles Wilson — and the panel’s refusal to extend Judge Hinkle’s stay suggest that the 11th Circuit will uphold Judge Hinkle’s marriage equality ruling. I will not be surprised if we see a 3-0 ruling from the panel. The two questions of most interest are (1) whether the 11th Circuit will take up the matter en banc if the panel upholds Judge Hinkle, and (2) whether the 11th Circuit will issue a decision before the Supreme Court considers the 6th Circuit decisions.

    (3) Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court has the four 6th Circuit cases and the Louisiana direct appeal on tap for consideration at the Justice’s conference this Friday, January 9th. It is possible that we will see an order granting cert in one or more of the cases on Monday, It is also possible that the Justices will put the matter over for a decision at a later conference. Timing is important, because if the Court does not grant cert this month, it is not likely that the Court will decide marriage equality in this term. My guess is that the Court will grant cert in one or more of the 6th Circuit cases, but deny cert in the Louisiana direct appeal, effectively keeping the case in the 5th Circuit until that Circuit has a chance to decide.

    (4) 5th Circuit

    The 5th Circuit will be hearing the appeals from the Texas and Louisiana cases this Friday, January 9th. The 5th Circuit is generally considered the most conservative Circuit in the county right now, populated with some outstanding examples of hard-core originalists and other varieties of whackadoodles. Nonetheless, a positive outcome is not out of the question, given the panel that will be hearing the appeal – Judges James Graves, Patrick Higginbotham, Jerry Smith.

    Judge Graves is a recent appointee to the court, and is considered likely to be a more-or-less sure vote in favor of marriage equality. Judge Smith, on the other hand, is considered hopeless — he self-describes as a “right-wing activist” and his opinions on social issues make Justice Scalia look like a shirker.

    It is likely to come down to Judge Higginbotham, who was appointed by President Reagan and has, little by slowly, moved from very conservative judicial positions to more centrist positions. At this point, Judge Higginbotham self-describes a “left of the court’s center”, which, given how far right the court’s composition actually is, means little more than that the judge is rational and somewhere near the center of judicial thought.

    • posted by Jim Michaud on

      Tom, you’re generous in your state count. My count is 35. Until the cluster effs with Kansas and Missouri sort themselves out, I’m going with the lower number. Kansas doesn’t recognize SSM and it’s only St. Louis that’s legal in MO. To be fair, I didn’t count NM during its partial phase.

    • posted by Don on

      Thanks, Tom. Yesterday was a heady day to say the least. For the record, no opposition showed up for the hearing. We were surprised. Anthony Verdugo (our local religious opponent) did go to the courthouse skulking for press time, but he wasn’t in the hearing room.

  8. posted by JohnInCA on

    “This, of course, ignores that just a few years ago their beloved Clintons were also opposed to same-sex marriage, as for that matter was their beloved Barack Obama, but let’s not get sidetracked into the swamp of LGBT Democratic hypocrisy. ”

    Why not compare them from eight years ago? In 2007 Bush was supporting a state amendment to ban marriage *AND* civil unions. The Clintons were on the civil union train and while not supporting marriage equality, also weren’t supporting any of the new bans. Bush supported a federal marriage amendment. The Clintons did not. Bush supported banning gay adoptions. Clintons did not.

    And really, the only difference between Bush eight years ago and Bush now is that he’s lost and has said “we should respect the law”. There is 0 indication that he’s actually changed. Unless “we should respect the law” is a change now? If you really think that’s a change, you might not want to advertise that as it speaks more of Bush then anyone else.

    So yeah. Compare Clintons of eight years ago to Bush now, Clintons win out on LGBT issues. Compare Clintons of eight years ago to Bush eight years ago, Clintons still win out on LGBT issues.

    ‘course, comparing Bush to Clintons of eight years ago isn’t exactly fair anyway. If he does end up running against Hilary, it won’t be Hilary of eight years ago he runs against. It will be Hilary of now. It’s just unreasonable to expect people to compare him to where she *was* rather then where she *is* when considering their vote.

    If you’re even going to pretend fairness, you should at least compare where *she was* with where *he was*.

    And the real kicker is that is all silly. Yes, goal posts move in politics. All the time. Mostly because they’re *short term goals*. Marriage equality, DADT-repeal, ENDA, non-discrimination ordinances, blood ban, etc… none of those are the finish line. They’re goals along the way. And yes, eight years ago the herd was at a different spot with those goalposts. Some were closer then others, others were further away and we were happy with stepping stones. Now things have shifted, so some stepping stones are no longer acceptable because the goal post itself is in reach. If you think that’s hypocrisy then you think compromise itself is hypocrisy.

    • posted by James in Chicago on

      What you describe is the fundamental difference in the matter of gay rights and gay dignity between Democratic and Republican officials. The former have been amenable to incremental progress, as long as the political risk wasn’t too great, while the latter have opposed and continue to oppose progress every step of the way, relenting only when opposition seems too costly. Neither side is particularly principled and such is politics in the American system, but the choice is clear for any self – respecting and righteous gay American.

  9. posted by Aubrey Haltom on

    “But with all due :ahem: respect, the people who forced me to pause my life in order to fight for my life aren’t the ones who are dictating my procession through history. When you spend decades trying to change constitutions so that they become weapons against my family, you kind of lose the right to portray yourself as the benevolent teacher to my inexperienced civics student. When your movement is defined by disrespect for just about every facet of the lives of both me and my family members, the word “respect” sounds a little different when it comes out of your mouth.” Jeremy Hooper, Good As You blog.

    This link is from Good As You (G-A-Y), from blogger Jeremy Hooper. Hooper is responding to a comment by Ryan Anderson (Heritage Foundation, anti-gay Catholic, etc.).

    Anderson’s comment could have been written by Stephen, “We’ll have to see how gracious or vindictive voices within the LGBT community are in their responses,…Will they become a live-and-let-live movement or a stamp-out-dissent movement? If there’s respect, there’s likely to be less pushback from conservatives.”

    Hooper’s response expresses something that Miller and his cohorts fail to accept. But I think it speaks truly to the subject:

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      As usual, Aubrey, Jeremy Hooper is spot on.

      Personally, I often wonder what kind of impetus it takes for someone to devote their personal and professional lives to devaluing others’ humanity.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      ROFLOL. Really? You think that if we “play nice” the religious right will back off? Are you really that naive. Do you ever listen to what they say? Do you ever hear the talk in their churches? Nothing is going to appease that crowd except giving them their own way and sorry but I’m not going back into the closet and giving up my rights. That’s what they want and they aren’t going to get it.

      Now, if they come to us and offer nation wide marriage equality in exchange for not having to bake wedding cakes, we can talk. But that’s not going to happen because the reality is that they think the states should be enforcing the sodomy laws overturned in Lawrence. These are not reasonable people and there will be no reasoning or compromising with them. That is not true because I wish it to be so. It would be nice if there were some way to reach a mutually acceptable bargain, but there is no bargaining with people who’d rather burn down the country than allow anyone else to have the same rights they do.

    • posted by James in Chicago on

      To listen to the right-wing haters these days with their cozy home in the Republican party a person might think that all had been peace and tranquility between us gays and so-called straights until we gays began to marry. Opposition to employment non-discrimination law, gay Americans serving in the military, sexual orientation included in existing hate crime law, their support of the psychiatrically fraudulent practice of conversion therapy and serious chagrin that gay sexual intimacy is no longer a crime? Don’t look in that direction, people! Nothing to see over there! Nope, our hearts’ desire is merely the preservation of marriage as between a man and a woman with no offense intended against you gays whatsoever! Yep, one has to be a real genius to recognize that the bigoted reactionary right in this country longs to turn back the clock some fifty years in this country, back to the good old post- World War ll days of psychotic homophobia in the United States when every authority in the land hadn’t the slightest doubt that we homosexuals were the epitomy of a moral abomination and – never mind the ethical contradiction – profoundly psychologically ill as well. Nope, nothing to see over there! The homosexuals, whom we’ve also enjoyed at times dismissing as an utterly miniscule aberration constituting something like 1% of the population, have in some nefarious manner, which is never explained, succeeded in becoming tyrants!

      • posted by James in Chicago on

        …succeeded in becoming the REAL tyrants, I meant to say. How the right-wing bigots do project!

  10. posted by Aubrey Haltom on

    Re: Clinton and her ‘state’s rights’ approach to equality.

    It’s really disturbing to me that even now, Clinton is advocating for a state’s rights approach to equality.

    I have lost most all of any enthusiasm I might have had in 2008 – for a Clinton presidency. (And even then, my support was determined more by the idea of breaking the gender gap in our presidency then in the person herself.) When I think of the 90s and the Clinton’s expedient use of our community for a couple of percentage points in a poll – I know that we don’t necessarily have an ‘ally’ in our camp in Clinton. Her state’s rights position even now – (though why would we expect anything else from her as she considers a candidacy?) – is a frustrating reminder of how tenuous our position is even in the major Democratic circles.

    But here’s another reminder:

    In 2008, the official Obama/Biden position re: marriage equality was that ‘people of religious faith should determine our country’s civil laws re: marriage’. That position was voiced by Biden in the VP debate with Palin. A position which Palin immediately endorsed, btw.
    Obama’s famous tag line telling us why he supported discrimination against gays and lesbians (“because god’s in the mix”) spoke to that official campaign position for the Democratic candidate.
    In 2009, Obama’s Justice Dept submitted a brief in support of DOMA that said gays and lesbians could marry – someone of the opposite gender. And that legalizing gay marriage was akin to legalizing incest, etc…
    In 2009, as well, the Obama admin went on the offensive, stating that they had to defend DADT and DOMA. Do you guys remember Valerie Jarrett doing the lgbt circuit, telling us how sorry they were, but the Obama admin had no choice but to defend these laws?
    By 2010 – the Democratic Party Treasurer was telling the White House that the donations were drying up from the lgbt community. Coincidentally (?), suddenly (Jarrett was still on her tour) – the White House stated they were not going to defend DOMA/DADT as constitutional.
    2012 – Obama tells us he now supports marriage equality (because of Jesus – did Jesus change his mind?) – only he believes marriage is a state issue. So states should be allowed to deny equality if they want.
    2013 – DOMA at SCOTUS. Obama personally writes the administration’s paper/position to be submitted to SCOTUS. It’s a legally vapid position – one that is criticized harshly by both Roberts and Ginsberg. Obama reiterates his position that states should be allowed to deny equality.
    2014 – the end of October. Obama now states that gay and lesbian marriage rights are guaranteed by the constitution.

    It’s somewhat disturbing, and pathetic, to watch someone like Obama move on this issue in the way he has. Yet, as of this day and time, we now have a president who states that we have a constitutional right to same sex marriage

    Obviously, those conservatives who bring up past Democratic positions re: lgbt do so to soften the harsh reality of the pro-discriminatory positions the Republican Party and politicians currently hold. And it’s not quite an unfair tactic. Because the Dems did have those positions. And pro-equality Dems supported a candidate in 2008 who said people of faith should decide what happens with civil marriage. and in 2012, that same candidate (now president) said that states should still be allowed to discriminate.

    Of course, the context was slightly different for the Dem candidate than the Republican. The Dem candidate/president had a party that was moving decidedly toward equality. The Republican – to the contrary, actually. I hope the Republican Party makes the move towards equality – sooner rather than later, though anytime is better than no time – but until it does, the context for any candidate representing their Party is markedly different.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      We had to drag the Democratic Party kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It wasn’t easy and no one can honestly say that it wasn’t a struggle. But we have done it. Stephen and the other homocons are going to have to do the same with the GOP. That’s going to be an even bigger struggle and frankly I’m not sure exactly how they do it. But that’s the only way it is going to happen. Blaming liberals for their own failures is laughably weak, but I guess it’s all Stephen and his ilk can come up to rationalize staying in the Republican party. I left in 1990 and am embarrassed I stayed so long. I’ll chalk it up to “youthful indiscretion” as that seems to be a get out of jail card for everyone in politics.

  11. posted by Don on

    Honestly, I think Jeb’s position is a good one. It is an evolution. And by his making a change in his position, it will bring the gravitational center of the marriage debate within the Republican party closer to where he is. Maybe that is the center, but I’m not so sure.

    While trading barbs about *hypocrisy* is fun, the reality is both sides have been doing political calculations to attract money and votes. It is what moved the Democrats and ditto for the Republicans. Now that marriage equality has advanced this far, there are less money and votes on the anti-side than there were before. But there is still a lot of money and votes over there.

    To expect major political party to ignore all that money and all those votes is a bit much. Yes, it is absolutely hypocritical to demand personal freedom from government control while imposing it on other people, but there are lots of votes that demand that. This is why we are where we are.

    George Wallace knew what he was doing when he counted the money and votes before declaring “segregation today, segregation tomorrow . . .” And guess what else? In the late 1970s he had a change of heart. The goal posts had moved and I’m sure there was money and votes that he was willing to take for having a new position.

    That took 20 years.

    Who knows how long it will take for there to be too little money and votes for being anti-gay. But I believe that day will come. I’m not going to excoriate Bush for refusing to leave those votes and money off the table. That was the same calculation the Ds made when they took up our issues.

    While we crave leadership to pursue justice, there are countervailing forces that are extremely powerful that nearly all find impossible to resist.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      “While trading barbs about *hypocrisy* is fun, the reality is both sides have been doing political calculations to attract money and votes. It is what moved the Democrats and ditto for the Republicans.”

      Don is absolutely right. At least a little cynicism is healthy at this point. Candidates vying for top position in what has become a heavily authoritarian government don’t deserve to have the voters panting after them like fangirls, regardless of whether they’re Republicans or Dems.

      They’ll do or say just about anything if they think it gets them votes. I don’t know what either Jeb or Hillary really think. Nor do I care. I will vote for neither of them. We don’t need to extend any more posh political dynasties.

      The elite feed the elite. That’s how they got there, and that’s how they’ll stay there.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Does anyone believe any politician actually means what he or she says? Especially on controversial issues? I doubt that all Democrats are as pro-gay as they say just as much as I doubt all Republicans are as bigoted as their talking points. But what they really believe has no impact on my life, especially in an era in which pretty much all of them are nothing but whores for sale to the highest bidding donor. So I’ll take the one who will do what I want done and let others carry on the ridiculous argument of what anyone “really” believes. I’m not sure any of them have any idea what they think until a pollster tells them anyway.

    • posted by JohnInCA on

      What evolution? He thinks gays are icky people that shouldn’t adopt or marry. He thought that before. He thinks that now. Is “we should respect the law” really an evolution now?

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Yeah, this is really something worth arguing about. Which warmongering sociopath, aspiring to gain the power to legally commit mass murder, really likes us?

        They haven’t evolved into anything but monsters. They wouldn’t want the job of POTUS if the case were otherwise.

    • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

      In referencing Obama’s record re: marriage equality, I wasn’t trying to necessarily highlight any ‘hypocrisy’. Rather, show that Dems were willing to support a candidate whose official positions were ‘problematic’.

      And that, like Obama, most candidates are followers, not leaders. Obama didn’t lead on equality. He was dragged into it, oftentimes. Money (donations) and the Party’s overall direction required Obama to get on board. And note that he didn’t do so until his own Party was well ahead of him.

      I think the same is probably true of Bush. Any Bush.

      And the Republican Party is currently not in a space where support for equality is going to do anything but lead to that candidate’s loss within the Party’s nomination process.

      Until gay Republicans can get their Party, or the Party’s financial supporters, to start supporting equality – we aren’t likely to see any progress made on this front by a Republican presidential candidate.

      All that said, I don’t find much in Jeb Bush’s comments that makes me think he’s personally ‘evolved’. Placing civil marriage as a ‘sacrament’ and noting the stand for ‘religious liberty’ is another example of another Bush using those fundamentalist code words. (I remember a Time magazine article early in Bush v2 admin – noting how Bush spoke in “code” to the evangelical community – using religious terms that seemed innocuous enough at first glance. But to a believer carried a much different weight.)

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        If all the mega-rich Republicans who claim they aren’t social conservatives (the Koch brothers, for example) demanded that the party move forward on gay rights, they could make it happen. Fox News and most of the tv and radio hosts would fall in line and this would change quickly. Why don’t they? Because in spite of what they say, they don’t care enough to do that. Or perhaps they are too terrified of the religious right to risk their revolt. So while I hear a lot from that type of conservative (both in the news and personally) I fail to be impressed. Either make something happen or admit that you are fine with anti-gay bigotry in the politicians you buy and pay for, because let’s not be naive, our politicians are almost all just whores owned by their wealthy donors.

        • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

          I agree, Houndentenor.

          I just recently read an interview with one of the Koch Bros. He voiced his ‘liberal’ social side (pro-marriage equality, pro-choice (I believe), etc…).

          But when asked about his financial support for those who fight against the same values he just claimed to support, he was dismissive.

          No doubt that for him the major issue is deregulation. He wants to be allowed to do whatever he wants to do – with no hindrance from the government. Which, btw, equates to doing whatever he wants to do without any concern for how it affects the rest of us.

          It’s often been noted on this site by commenters – that so many of those who claim to be libertarian (in this interview, the Koch Bro was claiming that libertarian identity) are so easily dismissive of any social issues. The only apparent interest for this type of ‘libertarian’ is a financial one. And it’s a narrowly defined financial interest. No taxes, no regulation. And a simplistic view of ‘the free market’. As if a ‘free market’ existed a priori, without government invention….

          Anyway, I have known many people who call themselves libertarian. And I have many more FB friends who definitely describe themselves with that nomenclature.

          Almost all of them are white, hetero males. And they are all willing to sacrifice any social freedom for a financial one.

          I am not tarring all Libertarians with this brush. Just noting that it is a constant in the circles I am familiar with…

        • posted by Don on

          I think the reason why so many financially successful libertarians are willing to check their social freedoms at the door is because they personally have all the freedoms they care about. And to rabble rouse for someone else simply isn’t cost effective. Koch would have to write checks twice as large to make up for all the votes and money not coming out of churches. Why on earth would he do that? He wouldn’t.

          Those types of libertarians are looking for more converts to their particular cause. If fundamentalists were taking away their right to ride a tricycle but voting for more deregulation, they would take that deal in a heartbeat. Never gonna ride a tricycle.

          I don’t want to say they are selfish. They are self-interested, as all voters are. Unfortunately, principles are expensive. I have to admit not even I am always willing to pick up THAT tab every time.

  12. posted by Lori Heine on

    There is no one team from which all the right answers are going to come. Everyone is fallible. Life doesn’t work like that.

    The Left wasn’t very interested in same-sex marriage — it simply wasn’t a priority for them — for a long time. Which was why Obama and Hillary Clinton were opposed to it for as long as such a position was safe for them.

    It was homocons who pushed for it. Yes, those icky “Uncle Toms” so many of the commenters here have disparaged. I’m not one of them, but I know enough of them to understand that they have a role to play in the issue. I’m glad that the president and Mrs. Clinton are on board now, but I’m not going to give either one of them a medal.

    And spare me the pieties about how gay Republicans are somehow negligent because they don’t spend more time persuading people like Mike Huckabee to change. Hell, it took gay Republicans to change the Democrats. LGBT Dems were too busy kissing “progressive” politicians’ butts.

    I spent 15 years getting lectured, by Democrats, about how patient and long-suffering we were supposed to be. They changed because same-sex couples — many of them Christians or Jews — stood up and fought for gay marriage.

    The whole “let’s make public accommodations laws cover absolutely everything” push proves what empty frauds leftist LGBT activists really are. Just when we’re succeeding, they need to set us back. They aren’t interested in finding a moderate solution. They just want to promote their own careers, and prolong them as long as possible.

    • posted by James in Chicago on

      Here’s an anecdote for you from my experience of some twenty years ago: We were about twenty gays interested in gay rights who had gathered together in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana and at the only meeting I attended we were treated with a “sympathetic” heterosexual woman, the Authority, who informed us that we ought to get off our high horse since a recent poll, trumpeted to the heavens by conservatives, indicated that we hardly existed. I fumed as I watched my fellow gays meekly accept their chastisement. Keep in mind that were among the very most liberal in the community. None of your fictional conservative heros were in attendance. That’s where we’re coming from!

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Well, most of the LGBT folks I know are people of faith. A good many of them are conservative politically, and they’ve almost all been on the front lines for gay marriage since long before it occurred to leftists to care.

        As a matter of fact, it is precisely because they’re people of faith that my friends cared about gay marriage. They consider it a sacrament, and though it would make many social conservatives’ heads explode they believe that their own marriages are as sacramental as anyone else’s.

        I would think this would be a matter of common sense. That it would prompt most thinking people, not totally blinded by partisan ideology, to say, “Well, duh.” But evidently not in the commentary threads here.

        My friends would be quite surprised to learn that they are fictional. I myself am at a loss to see how your example proves anything whatsoever about how conservative gays (whom you have admitted were absent from the discussion you cited) might have dealt with the issue.

        Rationality is definitely not a “progressive” strong point.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      They [the Democrats] changed because same-sex couples — many of them Christians or Jews — stood up and fought for gay marriage.

      I think that’s right. In fact, I know it is, having taken part in the fight within the Democratic Party. As recently as 2006, in Wisconsin, the party leadership was telling us to sit tight, and we did not listen. We pushed.

      The push for marriage in the gay community has been longstanding, and it came from the ground up. It has been an issue for gays and lesbians as long as I’ve been involved in politics, back into the early 1970’s, and I walked into a push that already existed when I became politically active after I got back from the war.

      Speaking more generally, the push for marriage, wasn’t aligned with political position, right or left. It was independent of political philosophy, existing more-or-less across the board, driven by same-sex couples and single gays and lesbians who understood the importance of legal protection. It existed long before the “homocons” started writing about it in the 1990’s, and existed across the political spectrum.

      Granted, it wasn’t always a high priority, as you point out. Most of the politically active gays and lesbians I knew in the 1970’s and 1980’s thought then that marriage was a politically impossible goal, and turned their attention to other, more immediate, issues, like police raids, housing and employment. But marriage was always there, percolating away.

      As a matter of fact, it is precisely because they’re people of faith that my friends cared about gay marriage. They consider it a sacrament, and though it would make many social conservatives’ heads explode they believe that their own marriages are as sacramental as anyone else’s.

      That may be true, but that is not the whole of the story. The marriage movement within the gay and lesbian community was not aligned with faith in any meaningful sense. It was aligned with the needs and desires of couples. Although many of the gays and lesbians pushing for marriage were no doubt “people of faith” (since many gays and lesbians, reflecting the general population, are “people of faith”), many were not “people of faith”. Two of the fiercest proponents of marriage that I personally know were a lesbian couple, both staunch and outspoken atheists, who had been a couple since the 1940’s. Many others were gays and lesbians who were non-religious. In my experience, unlike yours, the non-religious outnumbered the religious, but that is not to say that there weren’t plenty of both involved.

      Speaking more generally, I wonder if you are familiar with Jaroslav Pelikan’s book, “Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture“. Pelkian traces the many manifestations of Jesus in Christian culture, a portrait of how Christians of different times and cultures each shaped Jesus in their own image. It is a fascinating book, one I’ve read several times over the years.

      The reason I mention it is because the push for marriage is something like the cultural Jesus. Gays and lesbians coming from different perspectives, periods and histories within the broader movement for gay and lesbian rights each tend to shape the history of the marriage movement in the image of their own perspective, period and history, and often confine it to conform to that perspective, period and history. That’s understandable, I suppose, but it comes at a cost, and is historically inaccurate.

      • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

        I’ve mentioned this previously here. But when I was living in San Francisco (starting in the early 80s) the Bay Area Reporter ran an editorial, with a series of opinions, op-eds, etc., coming after – on marriage. Looking at marriage as a civil contract, providing legal protections to the couples involved. And also as a social/cultural stamp of approval.

        To be fair, the argument in SF was framed by those on the left who opposed marriage in general. And those on the right (and I’m talking within the lgbt community) who thought marriage SHOULD be for heteros only.

        But the discussion was definitely there. AIDS would re-direct the conversation for a while. But ultimately add fuel to the fire. I think our community’s experience with the epidemic (as individuals, and as family) in this country helped us realize the critical importance of legal equality for our selves and our relationships.

        • posted by Lori Heine on

          There are some conservative LGBT’s in Phoenix, too, who are religious and think marriage should strictly be for heteros. But there are far more, in my experience, who want their lives to be as traditional as is possible, and want marriage for that reason.

          There are also leftist LGBT’s who want nothing to do with marriage precisely because they think it’s too traditional and hetero, and that we should avoid it because it puts us, in their view, in a patriarchal box.

          All sorts of people out there, with all sorts of opinions. My main point, in my two previous comments, was that it’s absurd to claim–as some have done here (not you, Aubrey)–that conservative LGBT’s had nothing to do with the fight for same-sex marriage except to possibly oppose it.

          I have some real problems with homocons. But it’s simply unjust for people to claim that they made no contribution to the cause of same-sex marriage.

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        I am familiar with Pelikan’s book, but have only read excerpts from it. I would like to settle down with the whole thing someday.

        There are indeed a lot of different viewpoints in the LGBT movement, and I’m glad to see them. Even though some of them are crazy. It means that the movement is expanding as it matures.

        The existence of LGBT conservatives is part and parcel of this expansion. They puzzle those farther to the Left, but in a sense they are proof of the movement’s success. This is always what happens when a minority group begins to make headway in a society: the more conservative elements feel empowered to join it.

        Then they change it, or at least make it more complicated. Which pisses the originals off. They’re accused of being traitors and Uncle Toms. But really, they’re simply being themselves.

        The only thing we all have in common is that we somehow exist outside the traditionally-accepted gender paradigm. For most of us, that means we love members of our own gender instead of the opposite. That doesn’t give us a lot of common ground, in terms of all the strictures the Left wants to put on us.

        It never had any reason to expect we’d all be good little progressives, marching happily along with every turn they take. If Leftists choose to get angry with conservative or libertarian LGBT’s for that, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves. A more thorough study of history, and a little common sense, would have shown them that the fractious nature of our “community” was inevitable.

  13. posted by Jorge on

    “My preference is as I’ve stated, but the courts make policy for this state”? Just doesn’t have an inspiring ring to it.

    Fine, I suppose it’s a good thing to have the possible emperor of the next Republican presidential primary (not that I’ve been following yet) dancing on gay marriage so early in the race. The media never even got Mitt Romney to dance on it.

  14. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    More. Chain reaction: Marco Rubio now says about gay marriage: Courts are weighing in and “whatever the law is, we’re going to abide by it and respect it.” He doesn’t want to be out-Bushed!

    It would seem to me that “the courts have spoken, we will respect the law and abide by it” is the bare minimum we should expect from the Republican Party’s 2016 nominee, although I suspect that a number of Republican contenders will not take that position, and align themselves with the latter-day equivalent of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever”.

    It is what is said after “we will abide by the law” that will be interesting.

  15. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    It turns out that Rubio’s recent statements are more complex that Stephen’s snippet from an on-the-run interview.

    Rubio argues that the courts do not have the power to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans:

    “While I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, while people want to change that law — and a lot of people apparently do – there is a way to do that. You go through the legislature, or you go on on the ballot, but I don’t agree the courts have the power to do this.”

    As I said, it is what Republican presidential contenders say after the formulaic “we will abide by the law” that gets interesting.

    • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

      Why don’t the courts have the power to do this? That’s never really been addressed by those who keep trumpeting this idea. “It’s always been a state issue” – doesn’t really put forth an argument as to Why the courts can’t decide on this matter.

      But there’s obviously a push to try and take this out of the hands of the judiciary. After the notice of the national abortion ban by the GOP yesterday, I’m fully prepared for them to try to generate some legislation that limits the courts jurisdiction in re: to marriage.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        The campaign to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts has been around for a long time — the Marriage Protection Act of 2003 and similar/subsequent bills. The core of the proposal is to remove jurisdiction over constitutional questions involving marriage and abortion from the federal courts.

        Ron Paul was a longstanding proponent of this idea. I don’t know where Rand comes out on it, since the last time a bill was voted on in the Senate was in 2009 or 2010, if I recall correctly.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Didn’t they make it a federal issue with DOMA? It’s a little late now to come back and claim that there’s no federal involvement in this issue.

    • posted by Doug on

      This is where the battle is going:

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Yup. So-called “religious freedom” is to marriage equality as so-called “Christian Academies” were to school desegregation.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Or maybe this is the way the battle will go …

        Texas prides itself on having the highest percentage of morons in the legislature of any state, and it doesn’t seem to be in any danger of losing that distinction.

        • posted by Aubrey Haltom on

          I have family and friends in Texas (and I used to live in Dallas, as well).
          They were all shaking their heads yesterday when this legislator made the rounds with his proposed bill.
          I’m far too old to be surprised. But I can still sit back in wonder at the extent to which people will go to deny someone else what they already have. And are in no danger of losing…

  16. posted by Don on

    Everyone knows the courts don’t have the power to do this. And there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Benghazi was a cover up. And Obama was born in Kenya. These are simple facts that everyone knows. And if we repeat them often enough, they will become facts in the minds of half the electorate.

    See: Animal Farm.

    • posted by Jorge on

      But Benghazi was a cover up. Only problem was that Republicans weren’t satisfied with their human Susan sacrif-Rice.

  17. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Macro Rubio’s remarks on marriage equality have gained him as least one fan, Tony Perkins:

    “Some Republicans try so hard to be popular that they forget to be principled. The real leaders of the GOP are proving you can be both. While some conservatives duck down and hope their social positions won’t be noticed, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proudly defends the values of his party — and the values of the majority of most Americans. When judges threw his state’s voters under the bus and forced same-sex ‘marriage on Florida, Marco Rubio wasn’t about to back away from his convictions on the issue. If Americans want to know why the next generation is turning on our values, it’s because adults aren’t leading on them–and in many cases, not living by them. The same ones who say same-sex ‘marriage’ is inevitable are inevitably letting the other side do the talking. Thank goodness for conservatives like Marco Rubio who aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right — regardless which way the political winds are blowing.”

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      For some reason, while both sides of the marriage equality divide were able to discern that Marco Rubio was not signaling any softening of his anti-gay positions, homocons like Stephen seem incapable of that.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        I think that what Stephen is suggesting is that saying that court decisions should be obeyed, rather than advocating open defiance of the decisions, are a step forward, however “tepid” that position might be.

        Perhaps he is right. I have wondered myself whether Republican politicians would recognize that the court decisions are the law of the land in this election cycle. I don’t think that it was inevitable, and I think that it is a welcome development.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          I didn’t word this as clearly as I might have, so let me clarify. The conservative Christian base, including Tony Perkins, who is generally acknowledged to have written the social issues part of the 2012 platform, has been describing the court decisions as illegitimate and urging defiance. Mike Huckabee, who is generally considered a serious candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, told the party clearly that if the party caves on this issue, he (and presumably others) will bolt.

          Given the power of the conservative Christian base in Republican primaries and the threats being made, the default Republican position would likely be to challenge the authority of the courts and to find ways to put roadblocks in the way of effectuating marriage equality.

          Within that context, “I will respect the court decisions …” is a bold position for a Republican candidate to take, however “tepid” that may seem to Stephen and the rest of us. Given the history of the party over the last fifteen years, a history of unrelenting antagonism toward granting any recognition and/or legal protection to gay and lesbian couples, it is also and a decided shift in direction.

          I think that was what Stephen was getting at. I recognize that a grudging “I will obey the law …” doesn’t seem like much, but it should be considered in context. It could be a lot worse.

          I don’t often agree with Stephen when it comes to political analysis, but in this case I do, assuming that I understand him.

          JEB — unlike Rubio, who is signalling an attack on the courts — appears to be saying “I accept and respect the court decisions, despite my personal belief that the decisions are wrong, and the party should, too.” I don’t think that JEB will survive the primary process, but just having a major candidate for the nomination take that position is significant.

  18. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Jeremy Hooper over at Good As You has an interesting take on the Bush/Rubio/Christie/Walker statements, a take that echoes a number of posts on IGF over the last year or two. When Stephen and Jeremy start singing from the same hymnal, I can’t help but be reminded of the line from Babette’s Feast: “Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.

  19. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    Please don’t confuse “the left” with the Clinton’s. For better or for the worse, Bill and Hillary Clinton have sought to claim the third way/political center.

    President Clinton favored a number of positions that the political left didn’t support; capital punishment, welfare reform, and the like.

    (As an aside, this is probably why he and Tony Blair got along so well.)

    In terms of gay rights, the political center was open to some ideas, but closed to others…during the Clinton administration.

    The late Senator Paul Wellstone was certainly more liberal then the center-seeking “New Democrats”. But even he couldn’t publicly back marriage equality, but he was a proponent of some level of legal equality.

    Today, liberals and much of the political center has evolved…but the Congress is nice not going to be dominated by liberals and centrist anytime soon…..

    I suspect that Hillary will also campaign along the same lines of centrist/third way politics.

  20. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    The best case situation is as follow s: all The States will have marriage equality and the federal government will offer federal recognition to those state marriages…

    “Best case”…is in terms of what serious liberal and centrist candidates understand is possible, even increasingly likely.

  21. posted by tom Jefferson 3rd on

    Frankly, I doubt that Mike Huckabee would actually leave the Republican Party ( giving up his lucrative jobs/connections) in favor of some new, third or fourth political party.

    Granted, Pat Buchanan did just that in 2000, but he seems to have rejoined the GOP soon after taking down the Reform Party.

    So….it is certainly possible….but I cannot see Mike Huckabee really wanting to ditch the Republican party or the two party system in general.

  22. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    BTW…..I think that the gay marriage ban in SOUTH DAKOTA was recently declared unconstitutional (but the State will appeal, so no marriage equality in the State just yet).

    In NORTH DAKOTA arguments were already made in court, but the judge has not issued his ruling (and some speculate may not do so until after the Supreme Court gets involved with the issue).

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