Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I'm Still Optimistic

(Editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman and published 3/27/13 in the Sacramento Bee.  Click on image to enlarge and then please return.)

Doyle McManus had an interesting column up this past weekend.  It was sort of bifurcated, dealing with two separate issues, but I still think it hung together nicely.  Here's the first segment.

The court seems ready to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while ruling quite narrowly on California's Proposition 8, allowing a lower-court decision to stand. Such an outcome would make gay marriage legal in California without deciding whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional.

And that would allow more of what we've seen up to now: a growing number of liberal blue states moving to legalize gay marriage, and a growing number of conservative red states enacting bans.

But there will be one big difference: Gays who live in states that allow gay marriage may have an array of federal privileges unavailable to those living in states that ban such marriages. And that raises complex questions.    [Emphasis added]

 If that is how the Court rules in the two cases, there will indeed be some complex questions and some chaos, at least for awhile.  Even so, however, I don't believe for long, and that's where the second part of McManus's column comes in.

... Most Republicans still oppose same-sex marriage by a wide margin, with only about a quarter in favor in a recent Pew Research Center poll. But the survey also suggests that the issue will grow as a wedge that divides the party, in part because of a big generational divergence: 76% of Republicans over 65 oppose gay marriage, while only 54% of those under 30 do.

And when the question is changed from marriage to equal rights, the wedge potential is even clearer: Republicans divide right down the middle as to whether homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, 49% to 48%, with young people again more permissive than older voters.

One leading GOP fundraiser described the conflict to me as "between the Christians and the donors" — Christian social conservatives who want the party to stand forthrightly against gay marriage, and donors who want the GOP to broaden its appeal to young people and moderates as a path toward winning the next election.

Speaking on condition he not be identified, this veteran of conservative campaigns noted that the GOP needs to keep all those groups inside its tent, which will make gay marriage a problem for any would-be presidential candidate in 2016.   [Emphasis added]

The Republican Party wants a big win in 2016: White House, Senate, and House, but that isn't likely if the the Religious Reich and the Tea Party loons continue to drive the agenda.  Party stalwarts don't want to be left out in the cold the way they are in California.

Furthermore, public opinion on equal rights for gays is moving quite rapidly, far more rapidly than it moved on a prior contentious issue, inter-racial marriage.  Atrios has a post up on that, one with a graph which makes the point clearly.

And that's why I'm still optimistic. 

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