Handful of Republicans sign brief in favor of gay marriage. This will be better than the Super Bowl.

We knew this was coming, and finally it has.

Ever since it was ok to murder a woman for bumping hips with a guy before her wedding night, social standards have moved slowly, but steadily, toward liberty and equality.  Essentially, we’ve slowly ditched dogma for empathy.  The political party of resistance to this trend has been the Republicans.  But as this last election showed, the social trend is continuing, so if the GOP wants to stay relevant it will need to become more moderate.  The problem is that they handed the reins to the Tea Party a few years back and, well, they’re pretty much too dumb to accept anything other than ideological purity.  They’re apparently banking on god to answer prayers for the first time in ever rather than on the strategy of aligning their policies with what people actually want.  So there’s a schism in the GOP between the people who want to remain political players and the people who think all the polls that say people largely support things like gay marriage and abortion are fabrications of Lucifer.

How are the less loopy Republicans to resolve this?  If they keep holding hands with the Tea Party, they lose elections.  If they say “sorry, you guys are political poison” then the Tea Party maintains its ideological purity and runs independents, splitting the Republican vote and, again, the GOP loses.  That’s why this day has been coming for a long time: a group of Republicans have signed a brief in support of gay marriage.

Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.

Suddenly I see fewer pitchforks and torches on my lawn.  They seem to be charging over the local GOP headquarters.  I’d better go make some popcorn.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://skepticfreethought.com/tokenchristian Jaime Wise

    Whether it’s being done for political motives or conscience, at least progress is being made.

  • Glodson

    This is great.

    Yes, this is partly because of political expedience. But the GOP has been built on the back of the Religious Right for the past three decades. They know they need to move forward with this. This will alienate some of their base. And they know they can’t rely on these bigots, and these bigots won’t vote for Democrats. They might stay at home, but more likely still begrudgingly vote for the GOP. The bigots are losing power and relevance.

    This is good.

    • MrK

      Or the nutters could form a third party, to drain the pus as it were. Anyway, the GOP is screwed, and they have but themselves to blame.

  • Jacob

    I’ll grab the drinks. This’ll be interesting.

  • Silent Service

    I have a really nice movie style popcorm maker. We’ll bring it over and enjoy the show together.

  • Sunny Day

    Notice how these are mostly “prominent Republicans” who are now out of office.

    Funny how the party of morals and values only makes a stand once they have nothing to lose from it. Imagine the good they could have done if only they had taken that stand while in office.
    Fuck em.

    • MathMike

      This was the same thing I noticed. The headline might just as well have read, “Retired Republicans Find A Conscience.”

    • John Horstman

      Yeah, the same holds true for a lot of retired law enforcement and DoJ bigwigs with respect to marijuana prohibition. They’re hardline as hell when they’re actually relevant and yet favor sanity (legalization) once they retire. It’s really irritating, though I’m glad that they come around at some point.

  • Andrew Kohler

    In addition to these Republican supporters, many Democrats have switched their positions on marriage in the last few years. The following all cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598/HR 1116) in the last (112th) Congress but voted for the DOMA in 1996. (I see no version of the bill introduced this time around; perhaps because of the impending SCOTUS ruling.) All are Democrats unless otherwise noted:

    Senate: Patty Murray, Carl Levin, Jeff Bingaman, Tom Harkin, Herb Kohl, Barbara Mikulski, Frank Lautenberg, and Patrick Leahy. The following were in the House in 1996 and voted for it there: Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Benjamin Cardin, Dick Durbin, and Jack Reed*.

    It should be noted that the late Paul Wellstone admitted to having voted the wrong way on the DOMA.

    In the House: Robert Andrews, Charles Bass (Republican!!), Earl Blumenauer* (who admitted his mistake during the Bush Years, before it was popular), Corrine Brown*, James Clyburn*, Rosa DeLauro, Norm Dicks, John Dingell*, Lloyd Doggett, Michael Doyle, Bob Filner*, Steny Hoyer, Eddie Bernice Johnson*, Marcy Kaptur, Sander Levin, Nita Lowey*, Richard Neal*, Ed Pastor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, who signed the brief in question), and Bobby Rush*.

    * = voted for Barney Frank’s amendment (House only) to allow federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states that chose to have them. This amendment got only 103 votes, only three of which were Republicans (one a gay man, Steve Gunderson, the only Republican to vote against final passage). Um, don’t we hear about the DOMA being all about protecting states’ rights? Rebecca Hamilton just posted something to this effect on the Catholic Channel; I commented but it did not survive moderation, apparently.

    Of those here mentioned who were in the House in 1996, most voted for the motion to recommit (which was something about making a report on domestic partner benefits; primarily an attempt at a nice gesture), excepting Bass, Dingell, Doyle, Ros-Lehtinen, and Kaptur. Of the same group, most voted against bringing the bill to the floor, excepting: Bass, Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Kaptur, S. Levin, Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen, and Schumer. So, most improved awards to Bass, Doyle, Kaptur, and Ros-Lehtinen, since they had not one but four bad votes in 1996. Too bad Ros-Lehtinen is still one of the most antiabortion members of the House (she’s often introduced hideous parental notification type bills). Deborah Pryce (mentioned in the article) was no longer in Congress for the introduction of the iteration of the Respect for Marriage Act from which I drew my list, but FYI she voted for the motion to recommit.

    Hope I didn’t omit anyone or include anyone by mistake; I get a headache looking at so many lists, and I only have part of this committed to memory (I’m pretty sure I can still list all the opponents of the DOMA, and I used to be able to name all the supporters of the Frank Amendment, too).

    To put this all in perspective: last Congress the Respect for Marriage Act had 161 people signed on in the House and 33 in the Senate. This is more than double the people in both bodies who opposed the law in 1996 (including two votes present in the House, there were 75 opponents therein, and 14 votes against it in the Senate)–and many of the opponents of the bill wouldn’t come out and say they supported marriage equality in the statements for the Congressional Record. I don’t think any senators did at the time of the vote (some–such as Wyden, Feingold, Ted Kennedy–did later), although some implied it (certainly Carol Moseley-Braun). During the debates, John Kerry (of COURSE) and Diane Feinstein clarified that they didn’t support marriage equality.

    I was going to link to the roll calls, but that triggers moderation (silly), so I’ll just list them. Go to thomas.loc.gov and these will be very easy to find:
    104th Congress 2nd Session, House Roll Call Votes 300, 314, 315, and 316; Senate Roll Call No. 280.

    Note re: final passage in House–Marty Meehan, Harry Johnston (FL), Mel Watt, and Clay (his seat is now held by his son, a cosponsor of the last Respect for Marriage Act) were all on record opposing it but missed the vote. Meehan was getting married himself, fittingly, and Clay was *stuck in an elevator*. Cardiss Collins (IL) admitted to hitting the wrong button since she was in a hurry (face palm) Sydney Yates also said he thought he’d voted against it. So my figure of 75 opponents counts these folks, which is why I don’t go by 67 no votes (I also count the two votes “present”). (All that I *do* still have from memory!) Flanagan, Longley, and Riggs, who missed the vote, are on record supporting the law. Dunn (also missed the vote) used to be my rep, and I called her office once and was told she was a supporter.

    One more thing: going back over the 1996 record, I’d completely forgotten that Pat Schroeder, in committee, tried to introduce an amendment to the DOMA adding “non-adulterous” to the federal definition of marriage. Yet, no Republicans supported that. Schroeder opposed the bill, just to be clear, and did that for the sake of highlighting the hypocrisy of “family values.”

    Never underestimate the fun of reading the Congressional Record! But do be advised that it can be bad for a person’s health.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Damn it! I was looking at the Frank Amendment recorded vote again for the purpose of writing a comment on a different post and noticed that Chuck Schumer *did* in fact vote for Barney’s amendment back in the day. Sorry to besmirched your voting record, Senator.

  • Loqi

    One of the commenters on the NY Times article says the pro-equality side has a lot of good arguments about civil rights and equality, and that his side “has a hard time” coming up with any good arguments, because they’re all religious in nature. He ends his comment by saying they can’t tell us why, but “we just know it’s wrong.”

    • Andrew Kohler

      When you actually realize that you have no arguments, perhaps it is time to change your position. Just a thought.

      As to Verimius below: Ken Mehlman, former RNC chair, is in fact gay; he just didn’t come out while he actually held the position. And agreed re: they will deny they’ve ever held this position.

  • Verimius

    In 50 years (or less), the chairman of the Republican National Committee will be gay, and Republicans will deny they ever opposed rights for gay people.

    • Stogoe

      But they will still oppose any policy that would benefit BTLG people, even if only tangentially, and the TLBG people who are in the party will be held to narrow standards of acceptable behavior and will not be allowed to be spokespeople for the party on the issues of specific concern to LTGB people and supporters.