Will It Play In Sioux City?

One way of looking at today’s non-action action by the U.S. Supreme Court is that it could speed the adjustment of the Republican Party to the inevitable legalization of same-sex marriage in most if not all of the country. A possible leading indicator was the reaction of WI Gov. Scott Walker (per TPM’s Caitlan Macneal), whose state was directly affected by the refusal to overturn Circuit Court decisions confirming marriage equality:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) conceded that the state of Wisconsin lost its fight to ban same sex marriage on Monday when the Supreme Court declined to hear gay marriage cases in multiple states.

With the Supreme Court’s punt back to the appeals court that struck down the ban, county clerks in Wisconsin have started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. And Walker seems to have accepted that this is the end of the road for the state’s ban.

“For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” Walker said, according to the Associated Press. “The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land and we will be upholding it.”

Walker supported the 2006 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in the state, but recently refused to articulate his stance on gay marriage.

This bland surrender would seem to confirm that Walker is more interested at present in being re-elected Governor of Wisconsin than in appealing to the powerful Christian Right forces in Iowa, among whom he may, if he wins, be spending some time soon. But the Iowa problem is real for Republicans: it became, because of a relatively early state judicial ruling allowing same-sex marriage, Ground Zero for conservative resistance to marriage equality. As recently as two years ago, I attended an Iowa political event, along with four or five former (and possibly future) presidential candidates, that was heavily focused on removing the judges responsible. I don’t think the majordomo of that event, Bob Vander Plaats (often called a “kingmaker” thanks to his timely support for the last two Iowa Caucus winners), is about to cave anytime soon. And so long as there is an opportunist or two in the presidential field who’s frantic for right-wing support (I’m looking at you, Bobby Jindal!), the odds of this issue being “off the table” in Iowa are very low.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.