In the WSJ today, Ken Mehlman makes a powerful case for the party to reverse course, as Britain’s Tory party did as they found themselves increasingly marginalized on a central social issue for the next generation. He homes in on one issue where conservative federalists really should care:
Our Election Night exit poll of 2,000 voters in battleground states (of whom 32% were Republican, 36% Democratic and 32% independent) showed a majority opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996: 62% believe that if states recognize same-sex marriage, the federal government should grant same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
Exactly. How can the feds decide for a state which marriages are legal or not? I favor a federalist approach to this, partly because I am so confident, at this point, of the irresistibility of the argument for equality and integration, especially when viewed against the following data:
According to Jan van Lohuizen, a former pollster for President George W. Bush, public support for civil-marriage rights for same-sex couples increased by 1% each year from 1993 through 2009, and by 5% per year in 2010 and 2011. Other polls over the past year show majority support for civil marriage among African-Americans (51%, according to Edison Research), Hispanics (52%, according to Pew) and voters between the ages of 18 and 39 (66%, according to the Washington Post/ABC News). The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows a 41% increase in support among Republicans over the past three years, to 31% from 22%.
So the practical case for shifting to this question is getting to be overwhelming. The question is whether the current GOP, reliant as it is on those with fundamentalist hostility to anything gay, can overcome fundamentalist theology to engage in politics in a multicultural society. I can hope, can’t I?