Friday, June 28, 2013

Under the DOMA (Or Not)

Was DOMA Like Some Invisible Oppressive Shield?
The Supreme Court struck down the Defense Of Marriage Act and more or less punted on Proposition 8 allowing gay marriage to resume in California. Reason Magazine looks at "why" the court ruled the way it did:
In other words, DOMA singles out a class of people engaged in otherwise legal behavior for harm—and there’s no good reason to justify doing so. The statute is invalid, “for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

The question The Omnivore has is: Will this be a hill to die on?

The battle space belongs to social evangelical conservatives and Catholics: a large part of the base. There is a 'safe corridor' of letting the states make individual decisions about gay marriage--and that's what I'm sure the RNC will urge any candidate with national potential to pursue--but if you want to be a right-wing hero you're going to have to come down smack on the right ... along side the National Organization for Marriage:
Was That About the Voting Rights Act? No? Oh, Wait ...
The National Review says this "Is Our Generation's Roe:"
Kennedy’s decision substantively refuses to engage the argument for marriage, as Scalia notes, dubbing it all animus, desire to degrade, humiliate, disrespect. An awful, awful thing for a Supreme Court justice to do to people he disagrees with. Lawless, as well, because he declared a form of heightened scrutiny for laws that deviate from custom — a rule never applied to all the new liberal laws that deviate from custom.
And CNN has a long list of tweets from outraged religious leaders:

I Don't Think That's Actually Possible
So, yeah, right now everyone is upset--and there are attempts to fund-raise--but what will remain in 2014? What will this battle look like in the 2016 primary?

What Does This Mean For 2016?
Everyone on the potential GOP short-list has had a chance to respond to the DOMA ruling. What'd they do?

Michelle Bachmann
Okay, she's not a front-runner--indeed, probably not even running. But if you want your base's gold-standard response, here it is:
"Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people's representatives through DOMA. What the Court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States."
Analysis: Playing the God card front and center is what the base wants. 

For 2016: This is the standard that anyone in the culture-war will want their candidate to hit. Did anyone?

Chris Christie
Christie blasted the decision--but chose the safe route of "let the people decide."
"I thought that Justice [Anthony] Kennedy's opinion in many respects was incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and Bill Clinton," he said. "They basically said the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people. What I've said all along is what I said when I vetoed the last one, let the people decide. You're talking about changing an institution that's over 2,000 years old."
Analysis: Christie makes an interesting decision to add a little fire and justification to the original bill when moving to State's Rights. New Jersey allows civil unions--but not gay marriage. Christie finds some ideological middle ground.

For 2016: Christie knows he needs some passion for conservative issues given his kissy-face with Obama heresies. He won't stray from the states-decide Green Zone but he can, at least, acknowledge the insult.

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio issues an internal memo to his folks:
While I respect the rights of all individuals, I believe marriage to be a divine institution where a man and woman resolve with mutual love and respect to live together as husband and wife, and must adhere to applicable laws and conform to civil ceremonies that may be required. As a United States Senator, I will work to defend Acts of Congress and preserve the legal definition of marriage.
Analysis: Boring. Rubio phones in a boiler-plate response.

For 2016: For a guy who has been beat up on his immigration bill, I think this means Rubio thinks social issues are just totally a lost cause for him. I'd have expected some heavier-hitting here to move him back towards the right. Does he think it's still more damage than it's worth (i.e. the cause is totally lost) or does he reckon he's not the messenger to carry this particular fire?

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan responds.
"The institution of marriage is a unique relationship between one man and one woman. It is the foundation for the family. I respect those who have a different view, and I hope we can carry on this conversation with civility and understanding," he wrote in his statement. "There are honest disagreements over how we should recognize different legal arrangements. The states will now decide this issue through the democratic process."
Analysis: Further left than Rubio as he even talks of respect and civility. This is a total reach-across-the-aisle.

For 2016: To me, this means Ryan thinks he has the kind of mass-appeal / electibility that Romney did (understandable seeing as he was Romney's running-mate) and would rather husband that than burn some cred here. Interesting that he thinks he can play Romney's hand better than Romney did.

Rand Paul
Rand Paul praised Justice Kennedy for "avoiding a culture war" and said he felt the ruling was appropriate.
“As a country we can agree to disagree,” Paul said today, stopping for a moment to talk as he walked through the Capitol. “As a Republican Party, that’s kind of where we are as well. The party is going to have to agree to disagree on some of these issues.”
Analysis: Paul is going even further than Ryan as he--woah, wait--on the radio with Glenn Beck:
"I think this is the conundrum and gets back to what you were saying in the opening -- whether or not churches should decide this. But it is difficult because if we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans?"
He later said this was sarcasm.

Analysis: Rand Paul has a different position than anyone else. He doesn't just have to bring in moderates or even Democrats--he has to bring his father's base to the GOP table. This means walking the Government-Should-Be-Out-Of-Marriage tightrope over the social values alligator pit before he can get to "State's Rights."

For 2016: I think this means Rand Paul thinks he has a shot at the nomination--a real shot. His positioning is more moderate than Ryan but has a dash of the crazy "The DOMA Decision will lead to bestiality being legalized" that some people in the base are trumpeting. With his father as an example, Paul is pretty sure he can talk out of both sides of his mouth so long as he does it well.

I conclude from this that the analysis that everyone serious is looking at is the same: It's over. They do not think this will be our generations "Roe." They do not think this is a winning issue. The risk assessment, pretty much across the board, is that going with the base is too dangerous here. No one goes full Bachmann.

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