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RNC Responds to Maine Marriage Bill

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2009

At first it looked as though the Republican Party was going to walk away from the Maine marriage decision whistling and looking away as if they didn’t notice. But finally Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement:

Our party platform articulates our opposition to gay marriage and civil unions, positions shared by many Americans. I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman and strongly disagree with Maine’s decision to legalize gay marriage.

Steele spoke of what “the platform” articulates about “our opposition” rather than trying to suggest that opposition to both marriage and civil unions is the position of a majority of Republicans. Further he said that “many” rather than “most” Americans share the platform’s positions. As for his opinion, he limited it to marriage and didn’t discuss his personal beliefs on civil unions.

There is no suggestion that this is thwarting the will of the people or accusations of undue activism or calls for initiatives. There is no appeal to tradition, God, founding fathers, the fabric of society, or 5000 years of definition.

This two sentence statement appears not to have been broadly released nor was there a press conference. This suggests to me that the Republican leadership wants a low profile about same-sex marriages – especially those passed by a legislature – at this time. I would find it hard to craft a more tepid response.

Whether this is because of a change in perspective, polling data, some new found respect for states rights, or just plain political calculus, I welcome it. And I’m awfully glad that Michael Steele is the current head of the RNC rather than, say, Ken Blackwell.

Maine’s Senators, both of whom are Republican women who have been supportive of gay rights, both stated that they support the rights of the state to determine its own marriage laws. While neither fully came out and endorsed the bill, neither had anything negative to say about it either. This was also the reaction of the White House.

In fact, other than the usual ranting voices endorsing religious oppression, the objection to the actions taken in Maine, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia have been muted to the extent they have been raised at all.

Comments

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Pomo
May 6th, 2009 | LINK

Hence why I am no longer a republican.

Bruno
May 7th, 2009 | LINK

Does Steele & the RNC want to downplay these SSM victories, or does he just not care to research them that much? Because it’d be easy to bring up the “people’s veto” thing.

Matt
May 7th, 2009 | LINK

Apparently the RNC isn’t in favor of federalism or a state’s legislature determining its own laws.

Or in other words, state’s rights are fine- as long as they don’t empower we homos.

Christopher Waldrop
May 7th, 2009 | LINK

Matt, that’s long been a Republican policy. They value the right of states to rule themselves (they’ve done a historical about-face and become the party of the Confederacy) except when states adopt a policy Republicans don’t like. Gay marriage? States shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Medical marijuana? States shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Environmental standards? States shouldn’t be allowed to set those. Forcing religion into classrooms? That’s a states’ rights issue. Determining who can vote and who can’t? That’s a states’ rights issue. And so on.

Steele’s very tepid response seems to be an acknowledgment of just how much Republicans know they’re losing by waging a fight on a social issue while the economy is going down the tubes. In good economic times they’d be screaming it from the rooftops. Now even for them it’s just a distraction.

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