EVEN BECK MOVES CLOSER TO SUPPORTING MARRIAGE EQUALITY… Yesterday, CNN released a national poll with some encouraging news: this pollster found for the first time that a majority of Americans believe “gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” What was once wildly controversial has become refreshingly mainstream.

How mainstream? Even Glenn Beck is moving away from his previous opposition to marriage equality.

The oft-deranged media personality was on Fox News last night, chatting with Bill O’Reilly about various culture-war issues, and Beck conceded he doesn’t consider gay marriage an especially important matter. “Honestly, I think we have bigger fish to fry,” Beck said.

“Do you believe gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?” O’Reilly asked.

“A threat to the country? No, I don’t,” Beck said, laughing, adding mockingly, “Will the gays come and get us?”

Beck quoted Thomas Jefferson: “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?”

O’Reilly responded by insisting that Beck is “ignoring the profound change in the American family.” I suppose, then, that marriage equality will not become widely endorsed by Fox News’ other hosts.

But Beck’s comments were nevertheless surprising and helpful. He has a lot of minions who take his “guidance” seriously, and while Beck didn’t explicitly endorse gay marriage, his comments certainly can’t hurt.

I am intrigued, though, by Beck’s choice of Thomas Jefferson quotes. In context, the quote Beck chose came from Jefferson’s support for the separation of church and state, and his demand that government power not extend to matters of conscience. Jefferson wrote in 1782, “[I]t does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Are Beck and his followers prepared to endorse this sentiment, too? Beck is apparently coming around on marriage equality, but is atheism OK, too?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.