Forget the polls. You know the tide on gay marriage in this country has turned when Rush Limbaugh has resigned himself to the idea of its inevitability.
The conservative shock jock admitted on his radio show Wednesday that it's only a matter of time before gay marriage is the law of the land.
"The bottom line is all of this is academic. This is going to happen, whether it happens now at the Supreme Court or somehow later, it is going to happen. It's just the direction the culture is heading. There is hardly any opposition to this. The opposition that you would suspect exists is crumbling on it," Limbaugh said.
Indeed, a number of lawmakers have recently changed their tune on gay marriage, including Republican Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, moderate Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and North Carolina's Sen. Kay Hagan
The latest edition of Time magazine reflected the shift. It features two different provocative covers, showing a female and a male same-sex couple kissing, with a headline that reads: Gay Marriage Already Won. The Supreme Court Hasn't Made Up It's Mind--But America Has.
"However the Court rules, we have crossed a cultural Rubicon where gay marriage is here [to stay]," Time's Michael Crowley told Chris Matthews on Thursday's Hardball.
But many social conservatives are still red hot on the issue. Take conservative blogger Erick Erickson for example, who was not shy about his disdain for the cultural shift when he tweeted, "You're not really loving your neighbor when you're cool with him staying on the road to hell".
Perhaps, the most interesting statement about the political ramifications of the a possible GOP pivot on the gay marriage came from former evangelical leader Mike Huckabee. When asked by Newsmax.com whether he thought Republicans may eventually punt on the issue, Huckabee responded, "They might. And if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk."
Crowley thinks that might not be such a bad thing for the GOP, which seems to be hamstrung by its right-wing evangelical base when it comes to presidential elections. "In this case, I think what would happen is, imagine the evangelicals out of the process in the 2012 Republican primaries, you end up with a nominee in Mitt Romney that has not been pushed to the right on social issues and maybe just taken that pressure off," Crowley said. "That might well be good for the Republican party."
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein had a different take, downplaying the power the Christian right wields on the GOP. "Maybe we are overstating [evangelicals'] influence because Romney was the nominee. There is a big Libertarian strand taking over the Republican Party, and they are more comfortable with states having the right to choose what to do with marriage."