Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Conservative Republicans file a brief with the Supreme Court supporting gay marriage

More signs of the times? Ted Olson, John Huntsman, Rob Portman, and Charles Murray are not the only prominent conservative Republicans to break publicly with the homophobic agenda that has been dominant in national Republican politics for the past few decades.  The Supreme Court is about to hear several high-profile cases dealing with same-sex marriage, beginning with a challenge to California's Proposition 8 (which banned gay marriage) that has been working its way through the federal courts.  And more than a hundred active Republicans, most of whom describe themselves as conservative (or "libertarian", which is what liberal-individualist pro-marketeers on the right tend to call themselves in US politics), have signed on to an amicus curiae brief asking the Court to rule in favor of marriage equality.

The signatories include some fairly prominent figures, with no less than seven former Republican governors—though it's worth noting that they're all former governors, and most of them would be classified as Republican "moderates"—as well as several former members of Congress and two current ones, Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinin (whose right-wing credentials are impeccable) and New York Representative Richard Hannah.  There are also "members of John McCain’s presidential campaign and Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, members of the Bush administration," a former Republican National Committee Chairman, lawyers, economists, businesspeople, and Clint Eastwood.  (You can see the list here, and more signatures are being collected before the brief gets filed.)

Yesterday I discovered that the signatories include a good friend of mine, Mark Gerson.  (I should probably make it clear that Mark is a long-time supporter of marriage equality, not a recent convert.)
35. Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works
This intervention may or may not affect the immediate outcome of the upcoming Supreme Court case. But from a broader political perspective, the very fact that this brief is getting filed, and attracting a lot of high-profile Republican signatures, is probably significant enough to be worth noting. This very public gesture appears to signal at least the beginnings of a public split on this issue among Republican elites. And thus it may represent one more step in the long-term process by which support for same-sex marriage, and a more general rejection of bigotry and discrimination against gays and lesbians, are becoming mainstream consensus positions. I hope so.
—Jeff Weintraub