By Craig Robinson
Eighty or so Republican operatives, former office holders or candidates, and government officials have signed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on marriage. The brief argues that gay people have a constitutional right to marry based on the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The group of Republicans is led by Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who was in Iowa last month to encourage Republican office holders to support marriage rights for gay couples. Mehlman is also on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that filed the suit against California’s Proposition 8.
The media coverage granted to the submission of the amicus brief seems to be overblown since Mehlman is intricately involved in the case. If anything, the timing of Mehlman’s trip to Iowa last month makes more sense as it was probably designed to find high-profile Iowa Republicans to support his cause. Only one Iowan has signed onto the brief. David Kochel is a former Romney advisor and former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa.
While some see this as the tide turning in favor of gay marriage among Republicans, the list doesn’t include any current members of congress. Until actual candidates or members of congress start changing their position on gay marriage, very little is going to change in Republican politics.
Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist, wrote in the Washington Post last weekend, “I don’t think it’s very controversial to suggest that a candidate who favors gay marriage and free contraception might have more appeal to a younger demographic.”
Statements like this only give credence to the argument that certain establishment Republicans seem willing to sell out the values of the party in exchange for a few more votes, which is a tenuous proposition at best. Even if both parties supported gay marriage rights, do you think young people are going to vote for the boring Republicans, or the Democrats who boast free love, legalized pot, and lots of cool movie star friends? These are childish things that appeal to childish people. Is the GOP really going to become a stronger party by stooping to that level? Maybe instead we should get our acts together and actually put together a coherent message that convinces people that conservative principles are worthwhile and the only way to make a better future for our children
If these GOP operatives really want to make a statement in support of their previously closeted liberal ideology, they should pledge not to work for candidates who don’t support same-sex marriage. At least then they are actually taking a stand. Otherwise, all of their talk and actions do nothing but sidetrack a political party that seems to never be on message.
The media might make the list of 80 Republicans who signed the amicus brief arguing in favor of gay marriage into a big deal, but until their actions and business dealings are aligned with their beliefs, it doesn’t mean squat. Look for the members of this list to be associated with the next moneyed presidential candidate near you. They would prefer them to be a moderate on social issues, but it’s not required. Money talks!
As for now, the list of 80 Republicans is the most insignificant list ever.
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