It was nearly six months ago when the New York Times reported that many Republican insiders saw a bright, silver lining to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality: the ruling offered the GOP a chance to “pivot” away from an issue on which the party is “sharply out of step with the American public.”
The piece noted some Republican strategists privately characterized the high court’s decision as “nothing short of a gift from above.”
It was a sensible idea, though it only works if GOP leaders themselves accept the gift and move on. Some of the top Republican presidential candidates continue to do the opposite.
Last week, for example, Marco Rubio sat down with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.” The Florida senator said he remains committed to “trying to change the law,” adding, “I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”
This week, Right Wing Watch reported on a conference call for conservative activists that Ted Cruz participated in, and the Texas senator described the Supreme Court’s ruling as “one of the greatest threats to our democracy we had seen in modern times.”
[Cruz] criticized Republicans who decided to “surrender” to the Supreme Court and treat Obergefell as the “settled law of the land.”“My response to this decision was that it was illegitimate, it was lawless, it was utterly contrary to the Constitution and that we should fight to defend marriage on every front,” he said….
Note, Cruz wasn’t just condemning what happened in the past; he also looked forward, sharing his plans for the future. The Right Wing Watch report added that Cruz vowed, as president, not to “use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision.”
As we discussed last week, for much of the country, the fight over marriage rights is already over. The debate has come and gone. Marriage equality is the law of the land and the idea of turning back the clock seems ridiculous on its face.
And yet, listen to what some of the leading GOP presidential candidates are telling social conservatives.
Are Rubio and Cruz simply pandering, making unrealistic promises in the hopes that far-right activists are easily fooled? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make their policy position any less ridiculous. These two senators – one of whom may very well be their party’s 2016 nominee – are telling voters it’s not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.
And that’s just an absurd posture that’s likely to matter quite a bit in a general election.