Why GOP reaction is muted as judge affirms gay marriage rights
GOP conservatives may not be itching for a culture war over a judge's decision overturning California's gay marriage ban. Economic issues, not cultural ones, are their focus heading into Election 2010.
Just a few years ago, a court ruling that overturned a state's gay-marriage ban would have stirred stronger objections than those that arose from the political right this week after a federal judge invalidated California's voter-approved Proposition 8.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But beating that drum now may risk being seen as so 2004. Instead, Republican leaders today are focused intently on the economy – and on blaming Democratic policies for its still-sluggish state – as they try to rally independents, libertarians, and "tea party" adherents around conservative economic ideals in advance of midterm elections.
"Every indicator that I have ... generally speaking, is that economic growth and job creation are the tandem issues that will be the principal drivers of voter decision at polls,” Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins told reporters Thursday. "What I’m encouraging candidates to do is go out and run on an economic platform, a jobs platform."
That's not to say passions no longer run high on gay marriage. Atlanta on Saturday is host to dueling protests over the Proposition 8 ruling from California, as will be the case for other US communities in coming days. Indeed, the ruling in California, if validated on appeal, could affect some or all of the 45 states with similar gay-marriage bans on their books or embedded in their constitutions.
But Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and a staunch opponent of gay marriage, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and a several other top Republicans have offered muted responses so far to Wednesday's ruling from federal Judge Vaughn Walker. He found that Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California in 2008, is unconstitutional under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution.
Judge Walker, a Republican appointee, is now weighing whether to allow the state to move ahead with gay marriages immediately or whether to hold off on new same-sex marriages while his ruling is appealed. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials on Friday formally asked the court to allow marriages to proceed in the interim – a change of position for the "Governator," who had twice vetoed laws that would have secured the rights of gays in the state to marry.