As public opinion has shifted strongly in favor of marriage equality, most Republicans would really like it if the Supreme Court would just rule on it so they don’t have to talk about it anymore. The hard right ones like Ted Cruz try to benefit from it but mainstream Republicans just wish it would go away.
Advisors to multiple likely 2016 candidates told TIME after the news broke that they are hopeful that swift action by the Supreme Court will provide them cover. “We don’t have to agree with the decision, but as long as we’re not against it we should be okay,” said one aide to a 2016 contender who declined to be named to speak candidly on the sensitive topic. “The base, meanwhile, will focus its anger on the Court, and not on us.”
The initial comments of politicians also hinted at a desire to turn the page. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 contender locked in a tough re-election fight this fall, told the Associated Press that the fight to prevent same-sex marriage would end. “It’s over in Wisconsin,” he said.“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 added, echoing the statement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called the issue “settled” in his state over the summer, despite his personal opposition to such unions. Christie declined to address the decision when asked about it Monday.
The pressure on them to address it comes primarily from Christian right organizations, for both ideological and pragmatic reasons. Ideologically, they demand purity; pragmatically, the longer it stays alive as a political issue, the more money flows in to them. But the party leaders and most elected officials have said little to nothing about what the Supreme Court did this week.