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Gay marriage opinion shift: conservative lawmakers, pundits left scrambling

As public opinion moves in favor of gay marriage, members of Congress find they have to adjust their stance. Conservative pundits are beginning to acknowledge this as well.

By Staff writer / March 30, 2013

Gabriela Fore, 6, of Upper Darby Pa., holds a sign with her moms in front of the Supreme Court as the court heard arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Carolyn Kaster/AP


This being the Easter/Passover Spring break for Congress, you’d think lawmakers back in their home districts would be eager to talk about the past week’s major news story – the latest developments on same-sex marriage, which has seen one of the most pronounced and rapid shifts in public opinion and political action in recent US history.

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But no, they’re trying to figure it out too, and so are most of their constituents. Meanwhile, one-by-one (or so it seems) political figures are coming out for gay marriage.

Most recently, that’s US Rep. Justin Amash, (R) of Michigan, a conservative who used to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was argued before the US Supreme Court this past week.

“Real threat to traditional marriage & religious liberty is government, not gay couples who love each other & want to spend lives together,” Rep. Amash wrote in a Twitter exchange with The Huffington Post. “I support repealing federal definition of marriage portion of DOMA. Always have.”

Asked if gay couples should have the option to marry, Amash tweeted: “Of course. How can anyone stop a couple from getting married in their own way? I just want government out.” (Read the full exchange here.)

That’s essentially the position Sen. Rand Paul voiced recently, although the Kentucky Republican focused on the US tax code, which (as now enforced) prohibits the survivors in same-sex marriages allowed in nine states and the District of Columbia from receiving certain financial benefits when their spouses die.

It’s hard for many Republican lawmakers to make the leap Amash did for fear of being challenged from the right by a social conservative in a party primary.

But that hasn’t kept other Republicans from speaking out.

Former Utah governor, US Ambassador, and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman took the issue head-on in a column in The American Conservative last month.


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