Last Thursday, in a sign that the GOP is recalibrating its image after 2012, 100 prominent Republicans (many of whom are no longer serving in office) signed a friend-of-the-court brief seeking to overturn California's Proposition 8, which effectively banned same-sex marriage in the state shortly after it became legal. The brief states the opinion that marriage is a constitutional right for gay couples—a position that goes beyond even President Obama's stance on marriage equality.
One of the signers, former communications chief for George W. Bush and senior advisor for the McCain–Palin campaign Nicolle Wallace, joined Morning Joe Monday morning to share why she supports the GOP's effort for marriage equality.
President Obama also filed a similar brief on Thursday, marking the first time a president has asked the Supreme Court to allow gay couples to marry. Obama stopped short of calling marriage equality a constitutional right.
The moment is a historic one for gay rights and marriage equality, and it represents an interesting moment for Republicans as well. While top leaders seem to be signaling a willingness to be more inclusive, the GOP base appears to remain skeptical of supporting same-sex marriage.
The legal brief was dismissed by the National Organization for Marriage, which on Monday pledged $500,000 to defeat Republican lawmakers supporting any law to allow same-sex marriage in Minnesota, a state considering such legislation.“None of these people are actively in politics. They are not running for office because they know … supporting same-sex marriage will end your career if you’re a Republican,” said Brian Brown, NOM's president. “There’s overwhelming support for traditional marriage in the Republican party, that’s why it’s part of the party platform, and any attempt by the establishment to redefine marriage and redefine what it means to be a conservative will mean the death of the Republican party.”
The brief was filed by former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, who is also gay, and among the signers are former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Jon Huntsman of Utah and former Mass. Gov. William Weld.
Wallace told Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski why she signed the brief.
"And I think some Republicans have felt for a long time—and maybe we’ve been too quiet about it—that if you really revere marriage and you really think marriage is this great institution that stabilizes society. That children should be raised in homes where their parents are married, then you should be the most zealous and outspoken advocate for gay marriage because you should believe that marriage is that great institution on which all families should be built," Wallace said.
While Slate's Brian Palmer writes "[t]he opinion of many legal scholars is that the brief will have minimal impact," Wallace calls the brief a "...historic move for 100 prominent Republicans to take."
The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments for same-sex marriage on March 26 and 27, 2013.