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How Republicans Are Handling Marriage Equality and What It Means For The 2016 Election

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How Republicans Are Handling Marriage Equality and What It Means For The 2016 Election.

June 26th, 2015, the US Supreme Court handed down an epochal ruling: Same-sex marriage would be legal in every American state. The US is joining a pretty exclusive club. Only 21 countries worldwide have marriage equality nationwide, as this map (based on data from the Human Rights Campaign) demonstrates:

marriage equality across the world

The United States is by far the largest country with nationwide same-sex marriage rights, extending full marriage equality to more people than any other nation, and indeed to more people than the several next-largest nations combined. It feels like we are finally keeping up with the world for once.

It has not been an easy for us to get to this point.

It is an issue that has been avoided at the federal level for years. Fears of religious and political clash have kept it from the U.S. Supreme Court up until this summer. In April of 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges. They look to answer these 2 questions from that case.

Question 1: Does the U.S. Constitution require states to perform same-sex marriages?

Question 2: Does the Constitution require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?

The questions leave many options open for the court’s answer, and could have lead to a few outcomes, one of which was marriage equality across the U.S.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, marriage equality in America looked like this:

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U.S. states and marriage rights
Marriage equality in the U.S. prior to the Supreme Court ruling on June 26th, 2015.

The fight for marriage equality in the States has been a vehement one, pitting Republicans and Democrats against each other. It’s not surprising to anyone to see that the states without marriage equality are located most in the South, and along the Mason-Dixie line. These are states where religion is still a large factor in politics. Take Rick Scarborough, a Baptist pastor, and Christian political activist has said he would be willing to be burned to death in his fight against gay rights.

Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Texas attempted to pass a slew of anti-LGBT laws, fearing a ruling in support of same-sex marriage. From “religious freedom” bills to adoption curtailment to protecting “ex-gay therapy,” to actually defending same-sex marriage, they have been frantically trying to reaffirm their anti-LGBT stance.

In a document called a Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage, Christain leaders, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, stated that gay marriage would be the “beginning of the end of Western Civilization” and that they “would not obey” it if the Supreme Court does decide to pass it over the summer.

After The Decision

These candidates mean to stand by their earlier threats. Already, the GOP is lashing out about the court’s ruling.

Here are some of the reactions to it.

The Bad

Mike Huckabee stepped up on Friday and predictably declared, “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” Huckabee is also part of a group that would seek an amendment of the constitution to ban gay marriage in the future.

Jeb Bush offered his words: “In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”

Additionally, Gov. Bobby Jindal had this to say:

Bobby Jindal on marriage equality

General Ken Paxton of Texas said in a statement that county clerks can decline to issue licenses on the grounds of religious freedom. “Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness, and act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans,” he wrote.

You'll notice how he refers to the Court's decision as an "opinion"
You’ll notice how he refers to the Court’s decision as an “opinion”

The Good

While these GOP loudly call out their religious freedom to defend their opinions, some GOP members are accepting the decision, understanding that young Republicans mostly support marriage rights, and this hard opposition isn’t going to help anyone in the 2016 election.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality and is urging his fellow Republicans to abandon efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. “I don’t believe there is any chance for a constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman to get two-thirds votes in the House and the Senate, and be ratified by three-fourths of the states,” acknowledged Graham.

Meghan McCain, daughter of 2008 Republican candidate John McCain, urged Republicans to let the matter drop after the decision was made. “Republicans have to move on from this or become relics,” said McCain.

Meghan McCain Urges Republicans to Support
Meghan McCain

“The GOP’s nominee in 2016 has to support this ruling,” she continued. “I think any anti-equality rhetoric will be lethal. We live in a world now where the reaction to Caitlyn Jenner is overwhelmingly positive and loving and accepting.”

McCain is absolutely right. According to Pew Research, 61% of Republicans under the age of 30 support marriage equality. Additionally, the favor of marriage equality, in general, has never been higher, with more than half the public (54%) supporting the right.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.55.12 PM

 

This is an issue that Republicans will want to keep an eye on since millennials could be the power in the 2016 election. Although the recent midterm elections resulted in domination by the Republican party and victories for those harping on different issues, such as tax breaks for high-income households, millennials are expected to make up a sizable percentage of the vote in the presidential election.

A study by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University released shortly after the 2012 election showed that Obama took 67 percent of the nationwide youth vote, while Mitt Romney pulled in only 30 percent. The youth vote swayed the most neutral states and was what ultimately led to Obama’s victory.

What the GOP needs to consider now is if it is worth it to deny marriage equality (or even appeal it) during the election season. While the denail may garner support from some of the Republican party, it will alienate the younger parts of it, leaving the presidential hopefuls as “relics” come election time.

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26 Comments

  1. Well written, but don’t lump all Republicans in the same boat by age. Not all of us agree with what ‘some’ of the candidates on this issue.

  2. This is such a hot issue for me. It is time for Republicans to let it go. Allowing others the freedom to marry does not affect their own marriage. Laws are in place to PROTECT people. And banning same-sex marriage isn’t protecting anyone, it’s only hurting those who are being discriminating against.

  3. The problem is that this seriously affects religious liberty, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Already, my pastor is seriously considering voluntarily returning his state license to perform marriages and thereby rendering himself unable to perform civil ceremonies for ANYone, gay or otherwise. Church marriages would be just that, religious ceremonies that are not recognized legally. These are the ramifications of gay marriage that people often don’t consider. Also, an environment is being created – and frankly exists already – where anyone who considers homosexuality to be a sin (a religious belief) is not free to say so and is not free to allow that belief to govern their own actions. I repeat, this decision by the supreme court seriously affects religious liberty. I would go so far as to say we are no longer enjoy freedom of religion in our country. Freedom of religion means the freedom to govern yourself by your religious beliefs in every area of life, not just the freedom to enter any church building you want on Sunday morning.

  4. I get so annoyed with others pushing their religious beliefs onto others. It has no place in our government. The Republicans need to get with the times, people aren’t as religious anymore and within the next 6 years they are going to loose ground if they don’t stop spewing hate. It’s ridiculous and quite frankly antiquated. Church marriages can remain to be church marriages. The ruling isn’t making every religion marry anyone. This article really hit the nail on its head, thank you for sharing!
    xoxo

  5. Separation of church and state….remember that anyone? How is one person’s marriage effect anyone else. I’m all about do what makes you happy as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. If you want to marry someone of the same sex…go for it. If you want to pray for those who do….go for it. However when your prayers go a little overboard and you hurt those who are trying to get married then I have a problem. If I remember the teachings from my Catholic School girl days….we are to do onto others as we would have them do onto us. I know I don’t want anyone telling me who I can and cant love or be with. I do understand if Churches do not marry a certain couple because of their religious beliefs, the Church and state separation thing again.

  6. I personally absolutely agree with McCain- Republicans will continue to become relics and founder on a lot of topics if they don’t become more moderate on bigger social issues. I think we see resurgence in Republican controlled Houses or Senates because people truly are upset about issues that really matter- budgets, national safety, etc. not so much marriage equality. I personally am very sad to be living in a state (NC) that allows magistrates the choice to refrain from issuing a marriage license to same sex couples. While I respect their religious beliefs and their right to aline their life within them, it is their JOB to issue documents and not be discriminatory. There are already 14 magistrates in this state that will not be issuing certificates in NC for the next 6 months due to their choice. All I can think about are small counties that might have a small staff that may in turn alienate same sex couples. I see the potential for an ugly lawsuit as well. Time will tell for sure.

  7. One thing that really frustrates me is when people push their religious views on others. People are free to do whatever they would like, and like Donna said, there is still such a thing as a separation between Church and State.

  8. I think that it’s very important to remember that not every Republican is the same, just like all Democrats are not the same. It’s 2015, and we don’t all fit into nice, neat little boxes. I typically vote Republican in elections, but I am pretty liberal when it comes to social issues. It makes me so happy that my gay friends now have a right that they should have had ages ago.

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  9. I am a Republican with liberal social views so I am in the category that supports gay marriage. I am happy that some of the Republican candidates are realizing that they need to be more open to this.

  10. This is such an interesting and controversial topic. I agree with some of the other comments that mention that we shouldn’t clump all Republicans into one basket. I consider myself a democrat but I certainly have Republican friends who are pro-gay rights. To me marriage equality is a human rights issue more than a political issue (even though there is a lot of gray area when it comes to politics).

  11. Interesting that the attorney general of Texas would call something the Supreme Court decided ‘lawless’! By the way, in the map at the top, most of the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) already has marriage equality. Only Northern Ireland, another more religious area, does not.

  12. I am hoping that with the Supreme Court ruling we will be a be able to lay less focus on social issues and place more attention on our international relationships and economics.

  13. It’s unfortunate that religion and politics clash over important issues like these. People can’t claim to want religious freedom at the expense of someone’s freedom to love and marry whoever they like. I’m a Christian but I’m so happy that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage!

  14. I think the main issues many Christians face is being made to marry a couple who is gay when it is against their belief and that in many parts of the Bible it is seen as wrong. The fear of being made to go against one beliefs is the biggest controversy. Otherwise, I don’t think it is always an issue, because God asks us to love all and never asks us to force others to follow Him or the Bible. That is one reason the Crusades were not always the best, by the way. It has always been a human choice. It should never be hate. I have a cousin who is gay and I love him just the same. I do think he has a choice to decide what direction he feels he is going in, and that I don’t have to agree to the detail, either. What saddens me is the Christians who hate people through this and who hurt others, instead of showing the love of Christ, in the midst of it.

  15. I am not against nor am I for because where I am from this is not acceptable but where I reside it is. It does not affect me in anyway as long as no one it trying to force the issue on me to choose either way.

  16. My family is from Texas & I even have a aunt who is married to a girl, all conservatives and obviously support gay marriage. I always find it wierd when these politicians are so against it because I honestly have never really met a conservative that was so anti gay marriage. Hopefully these old dudes retire and the younger generation will go into office and these issues will disappear!

  17. While I don’t agree with the quoted statements from the politicians above, I also don’t think that politicians should change their opinions to reflect the public opinion. if the majority of people don’t agree with their beliefs, and then they won’t get elected. in time, politicians will understand what our generation wants, and new candidates will arise!

  18. This was an interesting read. I also enjoyed reading the comments below and seeing that although there will always be different points of views people are respectful of one another’s opinion.

  19. I really think this is another civil rights battle, and I hope more people will learn to stand on the right side of history. I’m happy to see that younger republicans are more pro-gay marriage than their older counterparts, this is giving me hope for my generation!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  20. This post was super informative! Sometimes I never know what is happening and how to sort through all of the political jargon

  21. I’m was pleased with the Supreme Court decision and I know/have friends who didn’t agree with it at all. I’m for live and let live. After all, our Democratic nation upholds the inalienable right of all its citizens to enjoy all its freedoms.

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