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Social conservatives campaign against Republicans who endorsed same-sex marriage

In a rare move, social conservative activists urge general election votes against GOP US House candidates Carl DeMaio and Richard Tisei, US Senate candidate Monica Wehby, even though it could boost Democrats.

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    California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, who has a good chance of winning in the fall and would become one of the few openly gay Republicans to service in Congress, speaks to the Associated Press at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill in Washington, on June 23, 2014.
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Buzzfeed’s Chris Greidner reports that conservative groups opposed to same-sex marriage are actively campaigning against Republicans who have endorsed same-sex marriage:

WASHINGTON — Conservative activists are launching “an unprecedented campaign” against three Republican candidates — two of whom are out gay men — because of their support for marriage equality and abortion.

The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action, and CitizenLink “will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots” for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon, according to a letter sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders on Thursday.

“We cannot in good conscience urge our members and fellow citizens to support candidates like DeMaio, Tisei or Wehby,” the presidents of the three groups write. “They are wrong on critical, foundational issues of importance to the American people. Worse, as occupants of high office they will secure a platform in the media to advance their flawed ideology and serve as terrible role models for young people who will inevitably be encouraged to emulate them.”

DeMaio and Tisei are the only out LGBT federal candidates from the Republican Party to be appearing on the ballot this fall.

“The Republican Party platform is a ‘statement of who we are and what we believe.’ Thus, the platform supports the truth of marriage as the union of husband and wife, and recognizes the sanctity and dignity of human life,” NOM President Brian S. Brown said in a statement.

Brown called it “extremely disappointing” to see candidates supported “who reject the party’s principled positions on these and other core issues.”

Of the effort to urge people to oppose DeMaio, Tisei, and Wehby, he said, “We cannot sit by when people calling themselves Republicans seek high office while espousing positions that are antithetical to the overwhelming majority of Republicans.”

The letter was sent to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Greg Walden, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran, and others in Republican congressional leadership.

On some level, I suppose, it isn’t surprising to see groups opposed to marriage equality campaigning against candidates who favor it, but it is highly unusual to see this happening in the context of a general election campaign. If this were a primary where DeMaio, Tisei, and Wehby were up against other, more conservative, candidates, as I believe each of them were earlier this year, then what these groups are doing would be standard operating procedure. In the context of a general election, though, it is highly unusual because, in effect, these groups are telling the people that listen to them to either stay home on Election Day or even to vote for the Democratic candidate, although that would seem to be a counterproductive strategy, since the Democratic candidates in these races all likely support marriage equality as well.

It’s also worth noting that each of the candidates involved in this targeting campaign are running for federal office. Even if they did manage to win, which seems at least possible in the case of DeMaio and Tisei but rather unlikely at this point in the case of Wehby, they really wouldn’t have much of anything to do regarding the issue of marriage equality. With the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor the law of the land, there really isn’t anything that Congress will be considering regarding the marriage issue at any point in the near future. To the extent there is legislative action to be taken on the issue, it will be at the state level and even that action may end up being preempted by whatever the Supreme Court ends up doing with the cases that are before it from Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Since the marriage issue is basically irrelevant from the perspective of a federal legislator, the only thing that these groups are doing is punishing these three candidates for daring to dissent from Republican orthodoxy on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Recommended: Gay marriage battlegrounds: 7 states to watch

If nothing else, this campaign should demonstrate quite clearly that these groups and the people who support them want nothing to do with the idea of a “big tent” in the Republican Party on the issue of marriage equality. Either you oppose same-sex marriage, or they will try to take you out, even if it means electing a Democrat. Why Republicans continue to pander to social conservatives when they act like this is beyond me.

Doug Mataconis appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/.

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