Will Marriage Equality Remain A Wedge Issue?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 27 2015 @ 7:52pm

Sargent spots a divide in the GOP presidential field:

Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush are calling for respect for the courts’ decisions on this matter and/or respect and understanding for people on both sides of the issue. But Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are suggesting continued resistance; both have talked about a Constitutional marriage amendment.

He wonders how this will impact the primaries:

Candidates who are striving for (relative) moderation on gay marriage, such as Bush, Rubio, and Romney, are framing their position as rooted in conservative values: Respect for the rule of law and/or for those (even gays and lesbians) who want to enshrine lifetime commitments to one another. Will that assuage GOP primary voters?

Perhaps, as Ross Douthat has suggested, continued resistance wouldn’t gain any traction among Republican primary voters in any case, largely because even many religious conservatives think this cultural battle is already lost. But if opposition to marriage equality does indeed remain deep among evangelicals, it could prove a tempting exploitation target indeed for the likes of Cruz and Jindal.

Whatever happens, Suderman expects that this will be last election where marriage equality is a factor:

Depending on who wins the Republican primary, that debate will probably bleed into the general election campaign to some degree, although I wouldn’t expect it to be a major issue, unless the GOP candidate really fumbles the response or decides to make it a major issue—which, given the way the polls are running, is probably not a great idea.

After that, however, I suspect that it will be over. Not over in the sense that no one in America ever speaks a word in opposition to gay marriage again, but over in the sense of it being a meaningful political issue. As Ross Douthat has suggested (and as Sargent notes), evangelicals may simply view the fight as lost and decide to let the issue rest.

But more than that, Republican candidates are likely to have a harder time generating support by opposing gay marriage, because there are likely to be fewer and fewer Republican voters who oppose it.