For years now, the topic of same-sex marriage has been a hot-button issue, dividing the political wings. But in the United States, an interesting trend is emerging. Some Republicans – once staunch opponents to same-sex marriage- have begun to go against the party platform and even endorse it.
Of course, some prominent members like Marilyn Musgrave still oppose any attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. But there are still over 100 others that have signed an amicus (friend of the court) document, including some well-known republicans like Mitt Romney’s ’08 campaign manager Beth Myers. This means that over one hundred Republicans have agreed to tell the US Supreme Court that same-sex marriage needs to be legalized. This document will likely be examined by the Court this month as it considers overturning pieces of legislation such as Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Democrats have long been seen as supporters of same-sex marriage. During his second inauguration this January, President Obama stated “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” The president will also be addressing the Court and submitting his own briefing as to further arguments in favor of granting same-sex couples the freedom to wed.
But the fact that roughly 130 Republicans have openly gone against a major part of their party’s social platform speaks to the cultural evolution that is going on in the United States. Recent studies show that as a whole, more than half of Americans are in favor of gay marriage (according to a CBS News survey, and a Qunnipac University poll reported 48% of Americans in favor , this study included nearly a quarter of all Republicans). To put that into context, more than a quarter of democrats OPPOSE same-sex marriage.
However with progressive moves like this, it is no longer a matter of if the Supreme Court will overturn Proposition 8 and bills like it but when. The Republican Party is beginning to realize this as they run out of reasons to continue to disallow it – some have even begun to argue that failing to legalize same-sex marriages and civil unions is in direct conflict with one of the core Republican Party principles: securing equality for all Americans.
Failure to adapt on the part of the Republicans would likely mean that they would lose significance for Americans. It would mean alienating a significant part of the population, and potentially offending their own constituents for not putting personal prejudice aside in favor of the greater good. Republicans and Democrats are both aware that social progress needs to be made on a variety of issues, and that gay marriage is only one of them.
But because of the strongly held religious convictions of many in the Republican camp, there is the possibility that it could fracture the party. There is even the possibility that we could see people cross party lines altogether. This is unlikely however though. After all, if a party fractured every time one subset of members disagreed with an item on the platform, the United States would no longer be a two-party state.
It is more likely that we will see what might be described as a shift to the ideological left of the Republican social platform. This isn’t to say that they will become socialist, just that adjustments will be made sooner or later according to the needs of the citizens. As the will of the people changes and society progresses, political platforms will have to change too.
– Andrew Calame
- (Featured photo: Jamison Wieser, Creative Commons, Flickr)