RunInRed 12,165 Posted February 10, 2015 Share Posted February 10, 2015 An interesting read ... The GOP's Alabama problemAlabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s defiance of a federal court order on gay marriage is just the latest in a long line of bitter states’ rights fights on issues from school integration to the Confederate battle flag — and the latest potentially embarrassing political sideshow for the 2016 field of GOP presidential hopefuls. In the end, some veteran Republican strategists suggest, Moore’s order barring county probate judges from issuing gay marriage licenses may serve mainly to harden the entrenched positions of supporters and opponents of a legal issue on which public opinion has been shifting with lightning speed, and which the Supreme Court seems likely to resolve by this summer. Moore’s decision, however, increases the chances that Republican presidential candidates will be forced to discuss the issue — in the racially freighted framework of states’ rights, no less — before extremely conservative voters in the heat of a primary campaign. “It’s really the same arguments that the Civil War pivoted on, from nullification to states’ rights and all this stuff,” said Bill Carrick, a longtime Democratic strategist and native South Carolinian with a vivid appreciation for his region’s folkways and resistance to change. “I think there could be some serious pockets of resistance. Not national by any stretch of the imagination.” Almost 52 years ago, Alabama’s segregationist Democratic governor, George Wallace, drew worldwide publicity for his theatrical stand in the “schoolhouse door” against integration of the University of Alabama. But he knew his was a losing cause. John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and that was that. Moore issued his order Sunday night, in defiance of a federal court ruling last month that Alabama’s statutory and constitutional bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. The state is appealing that decision, but on Monday, the United States Supreme Court declined to extend a delay in its enforcement, and officials in Alabama’s more cosmopolitan quarters began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. That suggests that Moore’s stand may well be just as futile as Wallace’s was — and the immediate national political impact just as limited, despite pockets of intense resistance in Alabama and elsewhere. Conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) have vowed to support a federal constitutional amendment barring gay marriage, but the prospects for a full-blown “gay marriage primary” seem limited. “I’m not sure I see much of an impact beyond hardening the battle lines,” said Dan Schnur, a veteran Republican consultant for politicians from former California Gov. Pete Wilson to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). In 2000, McCain’s presidential campaign came a cropper in South Carolina over his tortured efforts to have it both ways on whether the Confederate flag should be flown over the state capitol in Columbia. At first McCain denounced the flag as “a symbol of racism and slavery,” then took to theatrically reading a prepared statement saying he understood both sides. In a 2002 memoir, he acknowledged that “made the offense worse,” because, “Acknowledging my dishonesty with a wink didn’t make it less a lie. It compounded the offense by acknowledging how willful it had been.” McCain’s reputation for straight talking was arguably never quite the same, but another of his former aides, Torie Clarke, said she did not think the current crop of Republican candidates would feel similar pressure to conform to the party’s most conservative views on the issue of gay marriage. “What’s the same as with the flag is obvious,” she said. “What’s different is there’s a much bigger tide in the other direction surrounding this. The interest in the Confederate flag was largely in one place, so it could have a severe impact, but just in the one place. This issue, yes, it’s clearly very important in certain parts of Alabama and elsewhere, but think of the groundswell in the other direction in the rest of the country. Just think of all the places where same-sex marriage is legal, and how fast it’s happened, and you wonder how much impact this will have.” Another veteran Republican strategist, Steve Schmidt, who has worked for officials as disparate as McCain and Dick Cheney and is a prominent voice in his party in support of gay marriage, suggested that gay marriage would not a be a third-rail issue for candidates in 2016. “Look, I think that the overwhelming number of Republican voters, and most Republican politicians — including those that have traditionally supported in principle that marriage is between a man and a woman — recognize the handwriting on the wall,” Schmidt said. “The majority of the population in the country now has the freedom to marry. It’s not going to be revoked or turned back, and there most likely will be a Supreme Court decision that affirms it. The true conservative position at the end of the day is to respect the rule of law and the finality of the Supreme Court decision that is likely to come in the near future.” That may well be, and even the most conservative candidates among the prospective 2016 field did not seem to be rushing to side with Moore’s defiance of a federal court ruling. But it is also worth remembering that while compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act was widespread and mostly immediate, the racial backlash created by it and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 persists in national life to this day — fueled by some of the same forces that oppose gay marriage. The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade may be the law of the land on abortion rights, but that has not deterred an active and powerful 40-year crusade to overturn or limit it. There is every reason to expect rear-guard resistance to gay marriage. The issue flies straight in the face of efforts by Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus to broaden the GOP’s appeal, if only because it also flies straight in the face of the most conservative elements of the party’s base. As Mike Huckabee recently put it, asking some conservative Christians to accept gay marriage is akin to asking Jews to serve “bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.” A half-century ago, in the midst of the civil rights struggles in which Alabama was ground zero, and when the violence in Birmingham made it known as “Bombingham” in popular parlance, the satirist Tom Lehrer mused in a song about nuclear proliferation: “We’ll try to stay serene and calm, when Alabama gets the bomb.” Political realities in the country are very different today in many respects, but some strains in the debate remain familiar. “There is a feeling of ‘Here we go again,’’’ consultant Carrick said. “Roy Moore’s trying to turn back the clock, which is his specialty. I don’t know what the party’s going to do about these guys. As hard as Reince Priebus tries to get the clown car out of the Republican parade, there’s always somebody who comes in in another one.” Schmidt noted that time itself is serving to resolve the gay marriage question in ways no politician or judge alone ever could. “An aspect of this which I think is enormously under-reported is we tend to look at this issue as a left-right divide,” he said. “It deserves to be looked at as an under-40 over-40 divide. Republicans under 40 support gay marriage at about the same rate as Democrats. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans hold the position — even if they support marriage as an institution between men and women — I think there’s very little tolerance for people who have bigotry towards gay people, and I think the majority believes that everybody has the right to be treated with respect.” Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/alabama-gay-marriage-politics-115045.html#ixzz3RM6MTKUb Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.