Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff
2012 campaign: Republicans wax medieval on gay marriage in Iowa
Since gay-baiting worked so well the last time a Republican won the White House, same-sex marriage was destined to come up in Thursday’s GOP debate in Iowa. Nevermind that public opinion is moving steadily in favor of recognizing gay marriage; conservative journalist Byron York invited the candidates to address the topic, and most were happy to oblige.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) offered his tired polygamy slippery-slope argument, which Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) rightly derided as just as pointless as questioning whether some states will legalize slavery (though he did express his personal support for opposite-sex-only marriage as a practice but not law). Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said he supports civil unions and doing more to protect minority rights -- not bad, for a Republican running for president. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared her record "unblemished" on this issue and reiterated her support for a federal marriage amendment. Mitt Romney, the impostor liberal front-runner and former Massachusetts governor, also called for a marriage amendment:
I believe the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level.Americans move from state to state; we need a single federal standard; laws need to be consistent -- Obamacare, anyone?
You might wonder why is that? Why wouldn't you just let each state make their own decision? And the reason is because people move from state to state of course in a society like ours, they have children. As to go to different states, if one state recognizes a marriage and the other does not, what’s the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding potential would there be in a state that didn’t recognize a marriage in the first place?
There are -- marriage is a status. It's not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state. And a result our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country.
But seriously, Republicans: This is 2012 we're talking about. Even the Bushes are coming around on gay marriage. Plus, your insistence on prolonging this battle could have political consequences, as your party faces serious demographic challenges. In short, continue raising an issue such as this, and you won't need Democrats to make the GOP irrelevant.
That the question was asked at all shows why it's a bad idea to have a small, rural state such as Iowa set the conversation for 2012 by holding its caucuses first. I doubt Santorum would blurt his dubious polygamy argument in, say, Massachusetts. Or California.
Defending Michele Bachmann (generically)
The conversation: Did Obama win the GOP debate?
Most commented: Third-party presidential candidate? Not happening
-- Paul Thornton