Tags: Gay Marriage | Supreme Court | gay marriage | supreme court | justices | gop

Supreme Court, in Taking On Gay Marriage, May Let GOP Off Hook

By    |   Monday, 19 Jan 2015 11:50 AM

The decades-long debate over the issue of gay marriage may be coming to an end after the Supreme Court agreed to address the question of whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process bars states from imposing bans on same-sex marriage.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that justices would consolidate cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, and hear arguments surrounding an issue they have sidestepped for years, a decision which some believe could benefit the Republican Party.

"I think a lot, most Republicans in the field are looking, actively looking for ways not to talk about this issue. The Supreme Court decision in June of this year would probably, for those Republicans, at least, the non-Huckabee wing of the party, would probably be a good thing," said Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

"It would, essentially, [allow Republicans to say] we are going to respect the law of the land and it is a settled issue, but we are going to be concerned about religious liberty and the free expression for religious institutions. And we will complain about the overreach of courts, but there won't be a big debate on this issue," he added.

According to the order released Friday, the justices will address two main questions - whether the 14th Amendment requires "a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex" and whether the 14th Amendment requires "a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state."

A deadline of Feb. 27 has been set for the petitioners to file their papers and the justices will hear the arguments in April.

Republicans, particularly from moderate states, also expressed the belief that a decision by the Supreme Court could provide political cover for the party.

"I think it’s probably going to be a relief, because if the Supreme Court makes a final determination — and goodness knows, nobody can guess what the Supremes are going to do — then it’s off the table," Shawn Steel, a Republican committeeman from California, told The New York Times.

Other Republican strategists disagree that any Supreme Court action will reduce the potency of the issue for the GOP in 2016.

"I fear there could be a bigger fight within the GOP because of a Supreme Court decision than there would be without one. I don't want to see a fight over this issue, because I think it's evolving on its own state by state," Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and adviser to Mitt Romney, told CNN.

A ruling, Weber said, could result in social conservatives coalescing around the issue, which would divide the party.

"I would guess social conservatives would take up umbrage, make it a divisive issue, and force every Republican candidate to go on record saying what they really believe," he said.

Last May, Gallup reported that support for gay marriage had reached 55 percent, which was a historic high.

The poll found that 74 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents backed allowing same-sex couples to marry. While Republican support only stood at 30 percent, Gallup noted the percentage was almost double the level in 1996 when the question was introduced into polls.

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The decades-long debate over the issue of gay marriage may be coming to an end after the Supreme Court agreed to address whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process bars states from imposing bans on same-sex marriage.
gay marriage, supreme court, justices, gop
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2015-50-19
Monday, 19 Jan 2015 11:50 AM
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