By Alyssa Sanford News Assistant
Republicans are fighting a losing battle.
In 38 states and territories, same-sex marriage is legal, according to Freedom to Marry, a marriage equality campaign. The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments for the legalization of gay marriage at the national level.
Even staunch conservatives — like presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — are admitting that while they don’t think same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, it should be a states’ rights issue, and not up to the federal government to decide.
According to the New York Times, Cruz recently remarked that he would be okay with his daughters being gay. NPR reported that Marco Rubio, a self-described “new-generation Republican,” said that he would attend a gay wedding, and that he doesn’t think homosexuality is a choice.
Even so, some 70 percent of Republicans are opposed to gay marriage, according to NPR. The same polls find that 60 percent of young Republicans, however, are in favor of gay marriage, suggesting that the Republican Party is clinging to its socially-conservative, old-fashioned roots.
It is ridiculous to pander to party-line ideology over something like same-sex marriage. In past months, state courts have been ruling in favor of marriage equality and amending controversial laws that would allow business proprietors to deny services to gay couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Though conservatives hold majority rule in Congress, their outdated social views do not rule the land.
Nor should they.
Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., challenged attorneys defending the interests of same-sex couples during arguments in Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 28, saying, “Well, how do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”
Perhaps there was little precedent for same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth legalizing. There was little precedent for women’s suffrage, but eventually that was deemed constitutional.
To uphold every outdated law and social view would be unconscionable. Imagine if outright segregation was still on the books, just because that’s the way things were always done in the past. Opponents of gay marriage continue to cite Biblical “laws” as evidence that gay marriage shouldn’t be permitted, but there are other things that the Bible explicitly outlawed that are acceptable today. Why not this?
Of course, the age-old argument is that gay marriage undermines the institution of marriage. Hillary Clinton used to think so, in accordance with her husband’s passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. But, as the New York Times noted, Clinton’s standpoint on the issue has shifted dramatically over the last 20 years.
Does that mean that Clinton is a hypocrite? Or, is she simply adjusting her viewpoint as she becomes more informed on the topic? Did she realize that her adherence to the political current of a bygone era didn’t make sense anymore and gradually abandoned it over time?
Maybe Clinton isn’t entirely forthcoming in everything that she does, but I can respect her changing attitudes toward gay marriage, and her transparency in doing so.
Republicans who are actively resisting the legalization of gay marriage must be afraid. They’re losing their grip on an issue that everyone used to agree on, almost unanimously. They must recognize the futility of their efforts in opposing gay marriage when there’s no evidence that it undermines “traditional” marriages between a man and a woman. But, for fear of seeming hypocritical, they cling to an untenable position.
It’s time for Republicans to concede. The Supreme Court is closer than ever to making a decision in favor of marriage equality. If conservatives want to continue to have influence in national politics, they need to recognize that the tides are changing and flow with them instead of thrashing against the current.