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Conservatives for Gay Rights

I’m really pleased that Obama’s statement that he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry is engendering a frank discussion about this issue in America. But what is really interesting is that it is not entirely a conservative v. liberal discussion.

Of course, you would expect conservatives like Andrew Sullivan be in favor of same-sex marriage rights. After all, Sullivan is openly gay and is married. Nevertheless, his Newsweek cover article is definitely worth a read.

But there are other signs that conservatives, who often march in lock-step on social issues, are not of one mind on gay marriage. After all, conservatives are supposed to be for freedom and keeping the government out of your private business.

Other countries have figured this out. Last October, the conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

Things are a bit slower here in the colonies, but they are nonetheless changing. For the first time in our history, more people support gay marriage than oppose it. Not only that, but both Democratic voters and Independent voters support gay marriage even more strongly, making this a wedge issue that works for the Democratic party, instead of working against it like it has in the past.

But even though Republicans still generally oppose same-sex marriage, the writing is on the wall. Support for gay marriage is now increasing around 5% every year. A leaked memo from a top Republican pollster is telling the GOP that gay marriage is being embraced by the general public and there is no stopping it. If Republicans don’t get on board, they will severely damage their brand. And they are promoting gay marriage as a conservative value, albeit in a private memo:

As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government.

Of course there will be a backlash among social conservatives. Indeed, this backlash forced Mitt Romney into a full flip-flop — walking back his comments from just one day earlier on gay adoption, and reaffirming his stance against gay marriage, including promising a constitutional amendment against it — in order to fire up the conservative base. Whether or not this will backfire is anyone’s guess. Indeed, Rand Paul’s crude joke that Obama’s views on gay marriage “couldn’t get any gayer” was sharply rebuked by those very same social conservatives, showing that this issue is not a slam-dunk even for them.

Indeed, even Fox News is sending out mixed messages. Anchor Shepard Smith declared “The president of the United States, now in the twenty-first century.” He even wondered “if Republicans would go out on a limb and try to make this a campaign issue while sitting very firmly, without much question, on the wrong side of history on it.” But at the same time, the headline on the Fox News website shouted “OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE.”

One thing seems clear. At some point in the future we will look back on laws prohibiting gay marriage the same way we now look at past laws against interracial marriages. The only question is when.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    As I’ve stated before I am not opposed to gay marriage. I think we as a society are ready for it. If the military can accept it without a problem, anybody can.

    What I don’t like is people pretending that the Presidents position has “evolved” and he now supports it. Thats just baloney. In this instance he says whatever he feels gets the best political mileage. He was for it as a Ill Senator because his district was decidely for it and the votes worked better for him, then he modified that position to support civil unions only when he ran for US Senate, because the broader base of the state would more likely support that position. Then he ran for President and needed independants and some moderate republicans to win, so he cam out against gay marriage. Now he wants the support of the LG voters since he thinks his opponent will steal back the moderate repubs. Political expediency, not evolving, just same old politics. What I also find amusing is if Romney had flipped on the same issue he would be getting hammered and called out on it. IMO that media bias.

    That being said I do support gay marriage and predict that one day in the not too distant future it will be the law of the land. Evolving takes time, just be patient.

    Monday, May 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    PSgt, Obama is getting hammered for doing a flip on this, about the same as Romney has been hammered for his (numerous) flip-flops. I even mentioned Fox News calling him out in the post, and Politifact rated it a full flop (which shows up on my home page). I’m not sure what you are complaining about.

    I have a small amount of sympathy for Obama on this flip-flop, since I myself once believed that civil unions were enough for gays. I then “evolved” into thinking the government should get out of the marriage business entirely, and just have civil unions for everyone (straight and gay). If you wanted a “marriage” then you could get one from a church (and I’m sure the Universal Life Church would do marriages for same-sex couples). But since then, I’ve realized that this won’t work since the government (both federal and the states) are already deeply in the marriage game, so now I fully support gay marriage. But I still understand that it is a touchy, politically charged subject and why Obama might be cautious about it.

    Monday, May 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    BTW, a poll released today shows that Obama’s support for same-sex marriage is considerably more likely to hurt him than to help him in the upcoming election. I’m sure Obama’s team knew this going in, so how could this have been only for “political mileage”?

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – like in your “traditional Marriage” post it depicts Obama as “evolving” while Romney is still crawling out of the water. Perhaps If it showed Obama standing tall, then running back into the water and then running out and passing Romney again it would be more accurate. Obama, in this case and IMO, is trying to solidify his base because his advisors believe it will be necessary for re-election. The whole planned thing with marching Biden out to fire the opening Ooops salvo so he could be “forced” to take a stand was all just a show. He needs money and he wants the LGBT dollars. I get it, but it still stinks in my mind. If some conservative or independant group with more money and votes offered to support him would he flip again? Whats he really think? We know what benefits him politically.

    I understand your position and it’s not a flip or a flop but an evolution. I used to be against same sex marriage, but I’ve gotten to know many gay couples and see they are good people trying to live good lives. I still don’t like what we used to call the “flamers”, but I also don’t like guys who chase every women they see or spouse cheaters like Newt or Edwards. The last two things are more preference in my book then bias based on a persons label.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Maybe I’m just jaded, and know that pretty much everything politicians do has to be politically calculated to the Nth degree.

    I don’t like it (and I’m not condoning it in Obama or anyone else), but given the 24 hour noise machine we call the media nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be much choice. If anyone is to blame, it is us.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I hear you on that one brother. As long as viewership stays strong the media will likely control our politics probably even more then corporate money. I say we go back to 3 channels you had to get up to change.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

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