The Republican reaction to Obama on same-sex marriage

Yesterday, I was rendered nearly speechless (nearly; come on, you didn’t really expect actual speechlessness from me, did you?) with pleasure at President Obama’s long-awaited and extremely tardy announcement of the end of his “evolution” on same-sex marriage. (Granted, this was a completely manufactured and artificial “evolution,” since he supported gay marriage as long ago as 1996 and only changed it when he became more politically prominent — but an “evolution” nonetheless, in the same Orwellian tradition of linguistic manipulation that helped make such ludicrous things possible as “enhanced interrogation techniques” being something other than torture. OK, I’m getting way off on a tangent now. Back to Planet Earth.)

Anyway, the point is that I was extremely happy — giddy, even — over the President’s remarks. But what makes me almost happier, in a less viscerally affecting way but in a calmer and more long-term perspective, is the virtual absence of strong public opposition to this. It’s incredible how muted the response has been. It really is hard to believe how far the country has moved on this in recent years. In 2004, President Bush was campaigning on his support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationally. Eight years later, a sitting President just announced his support for same-sex marriage, and Republicans don’t even dare to mount a serious rebuttal. This lack of a response is, to me, even more newsworthy than the announcement itself. As the New York Times noted:

Conservative social activists and groups that oppose same-sex marriage have been vocal in their disdain for Mr. Obama’s announcement. And advisers to Mr. Romney said in television interviews on Thursday that he would campaign on the issue of his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Sure. I think it’s an important issue for people and it engenders strong feelings on both sides,” Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney, said on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.” “I think it’s important to be respectful in how we talk about our differences, but the fact is that’s a significant difference in November.”

But Republican officials on Capitol Hill seemed eager to shift the conversation away from the social issue and back to blaming the nation’s economic struggles on Mr. Obama’s policies.

The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, repeatedly deflected questions about Mr. Obama’s new position on same-sex marriage at his weekly news conference. He said he believed that marriage should be limited to “one man and one woman” and then quickly flicked back to the economy.

This is notable. Same-sex marriage has, quite suddenly, become a topic that Republicans are gradually realizing they don’t want to be seen publicly and vigorously opposing. They’d rather talk about just about anything else. And that is a good sign.

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About jaypinho

Jay is a recent graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York. Previously he studied international security at L'Institut d'Études Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. He currently writes about politics, foreign affairs, and journalism and continues to make painstakingly slow progress in amateur photography.