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“A Bomb In The Middle Of The Presidential Campaign”: How Gay Marriage Could Cause The GOP Major Headaches In 2016

After yesterday’s dramatic ruling from the Supreme Court effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in 11 more states (that now makes 30, plus DC), you would have thought conservatives would be expressing their outrage to anyone who would listen. But their reaction was remarkably muted. “None of the top House GOP leaders (Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy) issued statements. Ditto the RNC,” reported NBC News. “And most strikingly, we didn’t hear a peep about the Supreme Court’s (non)-decision on the 2014 campaign trail, including in the red-state battlegrounds.” The only one who issued a thundering denunciation was Ted Cruz.

Even though the GOP’s discomfort with this issue has been evident for a while, with the unofficial start of the 2016 presidential campaign just a month away (after the midterm elections are done), the issue of marriage equality is going to become positively excruciating for them. Many people saw the Court’s denial of cert in the five cases they confronted yesterday as a prelude to the case they’ll eventually take, the one that will probably strike down all the state bans on same-sex marriage and make marriage equality the law of the land. That could happen in the Court’s current term, which runs from now until next summer. But it’s even more likely that it would come in their next term, the one going between October 2015 and the summer of 2016. If that happened, it would land like a bomb in the middle of the presidential campaign.

In a certain way, the GOP’s current dilemma is reminiscent of where Democratic presidential candidates were during the 2004 race, when the marriage issue burst into national attention after the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared in November 2003 that the state had to allow gay people to marry. Most of the candidates were unsure of what their position was or should be, trapped between the primary and general electorates. Howard Dean had been considered by many a wild-eyed liberal in no small part because as governor of Vermont he had signed a civil unions bill, even though he opposed full marriage rights. Before long, most of the Democrats running settled on that as their position too — civil unions yes, marriage no (the exceptions were Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun, all of whom supported marriage equality). None of them seemed to want to talk about it, and they were pulled one way by the general electorate, and another by the principle involved, and a party base that was moving to the left.

There’s a different quandary for today’s Republican presidential contenders. You have a general electorate supporting change, and a Republican base committed to the rapidly eroding status quo. And consider that the first three Republican contests are in Iowa, relatively moderate New Hampshire, and extremely conservative South Carolina, which happens to be one of the states affected by yesterday’s ruling. Ed Kilgore suggests that Iowa in particular is going to pose a challenge:

But the Iowa problem is real for Republicans: it became, because of a relatively early state judicial ruling allowing same-sex marriage, Ground Zero for conservative resistance to marriage equality. As recently as two years ago, I attended an Iowa political event, along with four or five former (and possibly future) presidential candidates, that was heavily focused on removing the judges responsible. I don’t think the majordomo of that event, Bob Vander Plaats (often called a “kingmaker” thanks to his timely support for the last two Iowa Caucus winners), is about to cave anytime soon. And so long as there is an opportunist or two in the presidential field who’s frantic for right-wing support (I’m looking at you, Bobby Jindal!), the odds of this issue being “off the table” in Iowa are very low.

Ed’s last point is critical. If all the candidates had a tacit agreement not to make too much of it, the issue might not be that big a deal. But all it takes is one who won’t go along to force all the other candidates to talk about it. And we already know that Ted Cruz, who will be bidding to be the choice of social conservatives, isn’t going to let it go.

Now put that in the context of the long-running conflict within the GOP between the Tea Party base and the more practical-minded establishment. When the party bigwigs are saying, “We really need to talk about something else,” the base is going to conclude that they are once again being betrayed by a bunch of elite Washington Republicans who are perfectly happy consorting with the sodomites who inhabit their metropolis of depravity.

Which, to a certain degree, is true. Many of those elite Washington Republicans may still write columns in support of “traditional marriage,” but they also regularly interact with gay people. They’ll come around before long, which will only make the base angrier.

The 2016 Republican primary was already shaping up to be a hugely entertaining bloodbath. This only makes it more exciting.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, October 7, 2014

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Only Heterosexuals Served Here”: Seriously, What Is Wrong With Kansas?

Kansas might as well start producing “Only Heterosexuals Served Here” signs for businesses and government offices.

A bill that sailed through the state’s House of Representatives tells Kansans: You can be as discriminatory as you like against homosexuals and the state will have your back. Just be sure and do it in God’s name!

The bill is meeting pushback in the Kansas Senate, but don’t be fooled. This is denial and fear on steroids. It’s happening across the country. And it won’t be the last we’ll hear of such legislative efforts.

The legislation is aimed at civil unions. It’s a pre-emptive strike to ensure that people “with sincerely held religious beliefs” against homosexuality will be able to turn gay couples away if they request flowers for a wedding, a banquet hall for a reception or wish to hire a photographer for their civil ceremony. Also covered are those involved with adoption, foster care, counseling or social services, including government employees. Like a city clerk who might want to cite his Bible to avoid legally recognizing a gay marriage declared valid elsewhere.

The politicians who support this nonsense have no clue what discrimination looks like, feels like or how it has historically has functioned in society. The constant cry rationalizing this bill and similar measures elsewhere is that it is religious conservatives — not homosexuals — who are apt to suffer from discrimination.

Really? I’m doubtful that any has entered a public business to be told that their money is no good there — because they’re a Christian. Nor have they suffered the added humiliation of being slurred as they are shown the door. So the idea of ensuring such denial of public accommodation as a legally protected “right,” something no aggrieved person could ever sue for, feels just dandy to them. Justified, even.

What’s really happening — what’s threatening the religious conservatives of Kansas — is that the general public’s views on homosexuality are shifting. Rapidly.

People under the age of 25 shrugged at the hoopla surrounding All-American lineman Michael Sam’s public announcement that he is gay before the NFL draft. Seventeen states have legalized same-sex marriage so couples can gain the tax benefits, insurance, medical protections and legal responsibilities that straight people have long held. And federal courts have overturned bans against same-sex marriages in Utah and Oklahoma.

So religious conservatives now take up the mantle of a minority. That’s one of the few honest things about this conversation. Their view of homosexuality will soon be (if it is not already) a minority opinion.

Yet they miss crucial points. No government authority — neither the courts nor the executive branch — is telling people that they can’t continue to decry homosexuality. They can quote the Bible to condemn it all they want. Preachers can preach that God has naught but fiery damnation in store for LGBT people. Churches can continue to bar gay couples from marriage and any other sacrament.

But that long-enshrined First Amendment protection of speech and religious freedom isn’t good enough for these folks. No. They want the assurance that they can also run a public business, advertise their services to one and all, and still maintain the right to tell gay people they aren’t welcome. And never face the legal ramifications of a lawsuit, if such a thing could ever transpire in Kansas.

Here’s another overlooked fact. It is legal in much of America to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In many states and cities, a gay person can be fired if a boss takes a disliking to his or her “lifestyle,” and the fired employee has no legal recourse to fight back. Sexual orientation does not enjoy the federal protections of other attributes, such as race, sex, color, religion or national origin.

This backlash is not unlike the many hateful exertions to protect the “Southern way of life” from the threat of civil rights legislation. Certainly, there were, and likely still are, people who opposed the “mixing of the races” on religious grounds.

The Kansas bill’s sponsor points to one clause as a measure of fairness to gays. When an employee of a business or a government office doesn’t want to deal with a gay person, another employee should. Tap the non-homophobe to do the job!

This only underscores the bill’s absurdity, especially from a Christian perspective. Jesus of Nazareth was infamous in his time for supping with prostitutes and tax collectors, and yet these supposedly upright followers of his cannot bear to act with charity and decency in public and commercial life?

To defeat this bill and others like it around the country, a spotlight must be focused on the legislators who back them. Efforts to that effect have already begun in Kansas. But this sort of political hustle won’t die easily. It’s all about ginning up feelings of persecution among so-called “values voters” … over having to surrender the long-held prerogative to persecute. Lacking any grace or humility, these demagogues won’t leave the scene until they’ve discharged all their poison into our politics.

But they will never prevail.


By: Mary Sanchez, The National Memo, February 18, 2014

February 19, 2014 Posted by | Discrimination | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dudley Brown’s War”: The 2016 GOP Presidential Primary Is Going To Be A Cannibalistic Train Wreck

Chances are, unless you’re a Colorado political insider, you’ve never heard of Dudley Brown, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners or the National Association for Gun Rights. But Dudley, as he’s universally known in Colorado, is one of the reasons Democrats have turned Colorado blue, and his scorched-earth tactics on gun rights could very well play in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Dudley’s National Association for Gun Rights spent more money opposing gun legislation than the NRA, a group he considers soft, and has become closely affiliated with Senator Rand Paul.

Dudley is the subject of “Dudley Brown’s War” an extensive profile by reporter Eli Stokols in this month’s 5280 Magazine. It leads with this telling and appalling anecdote:

True to form, last July, two days after James Holmes shot 70 moviegoers in Aurora, killing 12, I asked him about proposals to limit ammunition purchases. When I mentioned Holmes had 6,000 rounds with him that night, Brown said, “I call 6,000 rounds running low.”

Dudley has a long history of attacking Colorado Republicans he considers too-compromising on gun rights, ensuring a weak, extremist candidate in the general election. Stokols continues:

Brown’s hostage-holding of any center- or left-tilting Colorado Republican has crippled the GOP’s ability to regain a political foothold, making Colorado a swing-state microcosm of the national GOP’s biggest problem: breaking free of its base and becoming more “inclusive,” an imperative Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus outlined in March.

Dudley is an equal-opportunity misogynist: the object of some of his worst vitriol has been Republican women. He was responsible for an ugly anti-gay mailer in a Republican state Sen. primary that pitted incumbent Jean White, who voted for civil unions, against challenger Randy Baumgardner (who’s now running for Senate). The gay couple featured in the hate mailer is now suing for unauthorized use of their photo. White lost. And even if he beats 2010 GOP nominee Ken Buck, who just filed papers for the race, Baumgardner can’t beat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Dudley also went after Republican State Rep. B.J. Nikkel for supporting civil unions. As B.J. told me on Twitter, “He can’t stand any woman he can’t control.”

So the cannibalistic exercise that will be the Republican 2016p primary is hardly unfamiliar to Colorado voters. It’s gained volume with the Rand Paul-Chris Christie spat, and shows no signs of abating with Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz visiting Iowa and urging a government shutdown. Meanwhile Paul, a senator from Kentucky, and the National Association for Gun Rights have already started attacking other Republicans for being too soft on gun rights.

According to Politico, back in April during the height of the gun safety bill debate in Congress, “The group has blitzed the districts of Virginia Republicans Cantor and Rep. Scott Rigell with $50,000 worth of TV and radio ads accusing them of helping President Barack Obama pass gun control legislation.”

Sound familiar? Rigell had an A- from the NRA. But that wasn’t good enough for Rand Paul and Dudley Brown.

If Paul makes a serious run at the nomination, he’ll have Dudley Brown to thank. And if he loses the election, Democrats will have Dudley Brown to thank.


By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, August 9, 2013

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Brilliant”: Joe Biden’s Gay Marriage Comment Was No Gaffe

From the press drubbing of White House press secretary Jay Carney this week, you’d think that the Obama administration had made some sort of huge faux pas, had displayed some devastating lack of discipline that exposed a divergence of opinion at the top and an inability to control it.


Here’s what happened: Vice President Joe Biden went on TV on Sunday and said he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage. This is a notable, but not all that interesting, difference of opinion from that of President Obama, who has backed the idea of civil unions but has balked at the idea of full-on gay marriage. Shock! Score! Big story!

It would be easy to believe that Biden, who (unfortunately but also endearingly) tends to say what’s in his head at the moment without first screening it for public consumption, had made a mistake by revealing his personal feelings on the matter. It’s why Biden is referred to, by people who don’t know him, as “gaffe-prone.” It’s why reporters who covered him as a U.S. senator always found him refreshing and frank and real (even if he did, on occasion, say he just had three seconds to talk and then 15 minutes later, you were kindly explaining you had a deadline and had to go). And it’s also why people could believe the highly improbable theory that Biden screwed up, said something that contradicted the president, and forced Carney to try to clean it up.


Obama’s well-positioned for re-election, but that means rallying a lot of supporters who really liked the idea of a transformational candidate in 2008, and now aren’t so sure much has been transformed. Mitt Romney will surely have to do better than saying, “I’m not that guy,” to win the White House. But Obama can’t get his base to the polls by saying, yeah, I know I didn’t do everything I promised or hoped, but think how much worse it would be if you elected the other guy. He needs to get the base to the polls.

Gays and lesbians are part of that equation. They’re not a huge part of the equation, but in a race where battleground states could be decided by a couple of percentage points, Obama can’t risk losing them. And yet, he can’t freak out the independents who might not be so comfortable with gay marriage. And perhaps even more, he can’t so anger evangelicals (who are unhappy with Romney and might stay home) that they actually enthusiastically go out and vote for Romney.

What to do, what to do.

Well you could have your vice president saying he’s OK with gay marriage (becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to make such a statement), making gay and lesbian activists (and their straight supporters) happy. Then, you could have the White House officially saying Obama’s opinion on the matter is still “evolving,” appeasing independents and yet giving gay activists hope that Obama might “evolve” toward the direction of his veep. And you could also give a little comfort to those who like to believe that Obama picks people who are true advisers, and not just sycophants.

And just to be sure, your Department of Education secretary, Arne Duncan, by happenstance mentions on a national broadcast that he, too, supports gay marriage. Look at those high-ranking Obama administration officials, coming out for gay marriage! And look at the president, not just giving in to people he outranks!

The “mixed message” the White House issued on gay and lesbian rights wasn’t a mistake. It was brilliant.


By: Susan Milligan, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, May 8, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Epic Obstruction And Dishonesty”: Colorado Republican Leadership Kills Civil Unions And 30 Other Bills

Civil unions are dead for this year in Colorado and Republican obstruction is to blame after an unprecedented night of antics on the House floor. The civil unions bill passed out of its final committee yesterday evening and needed to reach a floor vote by midnight. Republicans instead chose to intentionally run out the clock with hour-long debates on noncontroversial legislation about historic license plates and trans-fats in school lunchrooms, with Rep. David Balmer (R) filibustering, “Not a one of you has the courage to vote against chocolate!”

Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R), one of several Republicans who supported civil unions in committee, offered to help Democrats regain control to force a vote. The presiding officer declared a recess as an attempted coup ensued. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from OutFront Colorado, it’s obvious that House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) is seen holding the civil unions bill hostage, refusing to guarantee that he would bring it up to a vote. In fact, he dishonestly rejected the notion that any sort of stalling tactic was underway. Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Waller (R) attempted to play damage control on the floor, evoking uproarious laughter from the press when he claimed, “The Democrats in the State House right now are playing procedural games to have one bill heard over every other bill.”

Ultimately, the House never came out of recess. Not only did the civil unions bill die, but so did 30 other pieces of legislation, including $20 million worth of water projects statewide and a controversial bill that would set a standard for driving while stoned. Upon news the bills were dying, people in the gallery started booing and chanting, “Shame on you! Shame on you!” Watch how McNulty tried to blame the failure on an “impasse,” disingenuously suggesting “it is unfortunate that there will be items that do not receive consideration by the House tonight”:

But of course, McNulty is fully responsible for that impasse. He tried to pass the buck by blaming Senate Democrats for delaying introduction of the bill, but left out one important detail. Sen. Pat Steadman (D), the bill’s sponsor, explained that he brought the bill up late specifically because the speaker pro tem, Rep. Kevin Priola (R), was considering sponsoring the bill but wanted to wait until after the GOP state convention in mid-April. Priola supports the bill, but never bothered to sign on as the House sponsor, despite the delay at his request.

The Denver Post has called on Gov. John Hickenlooper to call a special session of the legislature so that civil unions can pass. Unfortunately, even in a special session, McNulty could reshuffle committee membership to prevent the bill from advancing to the floor.

There is no way to spin the absurd obstruction that took place last night. Despite ample support for civil unions from Republicans, it was the Republican House leadership that sacrificed 30 other bills to prevent same-sex couples from obtaining legal rights. It’s an historically sad day for Colorado politics.


By: Zack Ford, Think Progress, May 9, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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