Are Republicans “Ignoring” The Gay Marriage Issue? Why Would They?

Gay marriage has a reputation as a hot-potato issue. Neither party, apparently, is too fond of dealing with the question of whether gay people should be allowed to marry. Or so says today’s Politico piece on the question.

When a federal judge in California last week ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, several political observers braced for a flood of Republican blasts on the issue that could end up resonating in campaigns nationally.

Instead, the anticipated GOP bang over the ban — known as Proposition 8 — amounted to little more than a whimper. There were angry columns and cries of protest from right-wing groups and conservative writers, but the majority of the Republican establishment kept on a bread-and-butter message — and party leaders are encouraging them not to stray.

My first thought was that the ruling was two days ago. It took the Obama Administration – an organized public-relations juggernaut if ever there was one – longer or significantly longer to go to the press with strategies for responding to the BP spill, for doing right by Shirley Sherrod, and even dealing publicly with the relieving of Stan McChrystal.

My next was that, in my own anecdotal experience working for a polling firm, there is no particularly good reason why Republicans would skirt the gay marriage issue. If there was a political party whose main issue was supporting marriage rights for gay people, it would lose virtually every election in the country. One of the Founding Fathers of doin’-it-right election forecasting <a href=http://www.amazon.com/Forecasting-Presidential-Elections-Steven-Rosenstone/dp/0300026919/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281197009&sr=8-3found that, in many elections, civil libertarians (namely among them John Kennedy) would’ve been screwed if his opponent had made a bigger deal of his support for civil rights during the campaign.

Perhaps this is why one of the key parts of the electoral narrative is that Obama “isn’t liberal enough” for “the liberals.” Yet even if this is the case, shouldn’t we expect this? Why would a strategically sane elected official buck the majority? Which brings me to the key point:

Democrats did not overturn Prop 8.

“Buy, lobby, or sue” is a question that reveals much about the politicking of American interest groups. In descending order of popularity, it makes strategic sense for an interest group to (1)Ask the public to vote on an issue if they think >50% of the public support it, (2)Lobby an agency if they think they can’t get a majority to decide an issue but an unelected regulator still has the power to adjudicate on it, or (3)Go to the courts if they think most people hate their stance on that issue. Consider the above logic, and this will be the easiest A you’ll ever get on a quiz:

1. How did American law come to include tax-free medical benefits for disabled veterans?
(A) Congressional vote
(B) Agency ruling as a result of open comments
(C) Court decision

2. How did Exxon-Mobile talk down its fine of $5.3 billion dollars for the Exxon-Valdez spill to just $500 million?
(A) Congressional vote
(B) Agency ruling as a result of open comments
(C) Court decision

If you got a one hundred on my quiz, congratulations – you understand positive political theory! The Democrats did not rule on this issue because electoral parties are rarely in the game of playing to lose. Judges don’t have that problem.

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One Response to “Are Republicans “Ignoring” The Gay Marriage Issue? Why Would They?”

  1. Eating Disorder Treatment : Says:

    i’m not totally against gay marriage, coz gay persons need to be happy to ‘

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