Marriage Equality Deluge

Remarkably enough, it’s becoming difficult to keep up with the states legalizing same-sex marriage. Rhode Island, the tenth state to embrace marriage equality, got some attention because of impressive Republican support for the measure, and its completion of a regional marriage equality bloc across all the New England states. Delaware, number eleven (as of yesterday) barely got noticed. Minnesota and Illinois are the next states in line.

Aside from the crumbling opposition to marriage equality, its rapid acceptance as virtually a Democratic litmus-test requirement after the president finally changed his position last year is the most remarkable development. Some of the staunchest marriage-equality supporters, in fact, have been the kind of “centrist” Democratic pols (e.g., Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Jack Markell) who might have been expected to run in the opposite direction not that long ago.

As for Republicans, the private acknowledgement most conservatives make that they’ve lost the war on this subject is bleeding over into expectations; nobody was really all that shocked when a John Porter switched sides, and a recent national poll showed a majority of rank-and-file GOPers under the age of 50 supporting marriage equality. As a sign of respect for the Christian Right (and the Tea Party, which includes most of the same people), the party as a whole won’t change positions until they are given permission by conservative religious leaders, and that may never happen. But “brave” acts of dissent from individual Republican pols on this subject, at least outside the Deep South, are going to become routine, and even older conservative voters will learn to “overlook” heresies if given some reason (in many cases, the trajectory could resemble the slow but steady and then universal acceptance of politicians who have been divorced, which made a quantum leap among conservatives when Ronald Reagan became their hero).

At a time when so much of politics has become so regularly depressing, the momentum that has built up for marriage equality is a happy exception. We’ll keep counting the states that have finally begun to make things right until such time as we are merely counting the exceptions–or the courts make marriage equality the standard.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.