Gay Rights: Play it Safe On Gay Marriage and You'll Get Left Behind


A flurry of polls show that the majority of Americans now favor same-sex marriage. This could explain why we see new politicians reversing their opinions on same sex marriage every day. The Supreme Court will hear the first of several arguments on same-sex marriage next week. This leaves politicians with less than a week to come out in support of gay marriage or risk being left on the wrong side of history. 

When Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) voiced his support for same-sex marriage Congressional Republicans did a collective face-palm. Now, they would all have to face questions about whether they planned to change their position on gay marriage. Republicans flooded the Sunday talk show circuit in what I will dub a ‘non-agitation offensive’. That’s when people who are still opposed to same-sex marriage try to say they are still opposed to same-sex marriage while offending the least amount of people possible. In math, this is known as the Least Offensive Denominator. 

On This Week John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he could not imagine ever supporting gay marriage.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered a great deal of clarity when he told reporters he “stands with South Carolina.” This morning, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) offered the Universe this sound bit of logic, “I'm not gay. So I'm not going to marry one." These statements calm down their constituents who find themselves in the growing minority opposed to gay marriage. 

When it comes to their views on same-sex marriage, members of Congress appear to be using the following barometer: Am I up for reelection in 2014? Am I running for President in 2016? Answering yes to any one of those questions dictates which way they will respond. 

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) takes the very popular “let the states decide” route. Senator Jim Thune (R-SD) opts for the equally useful, “deeply held conviction.” Any answer is better than no answer though, which is what some red-state Democrats have opted for. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said, “I got to go to the floor and talk about homeland security.”  Each of these Senators is trying to play it safe by offering up vague responses and equivocations. History will only remember the leaders on this issue not the people who waited patiently for history to take its course. 

The Representatives who are against same-sex marriage find themselves on the side of a culture war they are certain to lose. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but very soon. Perhaps as early as next week. So members of Congress, this is your last chance, you may speak now or forever hold your peace.