The Republican dilemma: pandering to social conservatives to win primaries in Iowa and the South means alienating younger voters and centrists who are fiscally conservative, socially tolerant, especially on marriage equality. Those voters could be won over by the GOP in a general election, if not permanently offended by pandering to religious rightists.
Rand Paul has pushed himself over that cliff, to his detriment, by saying that same-sex marriage “offends myself and a lot of people,” and suggesting (if, I think, not quite stating) that gay people be denied an equal right to marry under the law, while in some future libertarian age—when the government has no role in marriage whatsoever—everyone could enter into relationship contracts as they desire, to be sanctified by religious ceremony (by willing clergy) if they wish. But until then…
We’ll see if the more moderate positions on marriage taken by Jeb Bush and Scott Walker hold. Obviously, they too have been against marriage equality. However, noting that people have strong feelings on both sides but “it’s the law now, let’s move on” might navigate that thicket, if they can stick to it.
More. Ted Cruz’s animus in Iowa makes Rand Paul seem positively gay friendly.
Furthermore. At reason.com, Scott Shackford argues that Paul is getting a raw deal and was actually offering a nuanced position. “He said the idea of gay marriage ‘offends’ him and some others, so you can guess which part of his response ended up in headlines.” Well, yes.
In fairness, an Oklahoma bill that would take the state out of the marriage licensing business but (if the Supreme Court does the right thing) still recognize same-sex marriages may give a clearer idea of what Paul is suggesting. Shackford writes:
While it is true that the legislation is a direct response to the federal courts striking down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage recognition and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will uphold those rulings this summer, [state Rep. Todd Russ] said his legislation is intended to take the state out of the fight, not to perpetuate the conflict. He said Oklahomans likely wouldn’t even notice a difference in the legal status of their relationships under his bill.
“I’m not picking a fight with them,” Russ said in reference to opposition to the legislation. “I’m not their judge. I didn’t go there.”
Update. via Scott Shackford at reason.com: Rand Paul Reaches Out to Evangelicals over ‘Moral Crisis’ Connected to Gay Marriage. Sadly, he’s shifting to the right, ever to the right, on the freedom to marry and other issues. Some see a panic response to low poll numbers and to Ted Cruz’s hyperactive lobbying of evangelicals. Others argue that Paul is still telling the pastors that while he shares their views about the “moral crisis” that includes same-sex marriage, they shouldn’t look to Washington for solutions (and instead, they should hold tent revivals, etc., as part of a new religious Great Awakening).