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Post-Clinton, Pre-SCOTUS, US Senators Line Up for Marriage Equality

Prior to this week’s historic arguments at the Supreme Court, and certainly before the Court issues its decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA (most likely at the end of June) we’re seeing US Senators lining up for marriage equality. After former first lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her unqualified support for LGBT equality, including marriage, last week, it seems like the moderate caucus of the Democratic Senators has found permission to jump aboard the bandwagon. From Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill’s tumblr page Sunday night, right above her frittata recipe:

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13

The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values.

I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.

My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.

Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.

Now, Monday, comes Virginia’s Mark Warner, who is up for re-election in 2014, with his own announcement:

“I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do,” Warner wrote. “Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.”

Coming only one year after neither major party’s presidential candidate supported marriage equality, and only one week after GOP vice-presidential vettee Rob Portman stated his preference for his gay son to be able to marry (and other gays as well, presumably) it does seem like a bandwagon rolling downhill.

The Washington Post (Chris Cillizza conventional Beltway wisdom alert) has declared the political battle for marriage equality is over:

But, no matter how the high court rules later this year on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, one thing is already clear: The political debate over gay marriage is over.

“There’s no putting this genie back in the bottle,” Florida-based Republican strategist Ana Navarro said Sunday on CNN. “This is now undeniable. The shift is here. We’re not going back.”

Evidence of that reality is everywhere. Dozens of prominent Republicans — led by former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman — have signed onto a brief to the court urging repeal of Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the Golden State. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a finalist to serve as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, announced last week that he was reversing course and would now support the right of gay men and lesbians to marry. (Portman said his decision was influenced by his son, Will, who is gay.)

Anecdotal evidence aside, national polling tells the story in stark terms. In a Washington Post-ABC poll released last week, nearly six in 10 Americans said they support the legalization of gay marriage. That’s the highest level of support ever measured in the Post-ABC survey — and compares with just 41 percent who supported legalization in 2004.

For those of us waiting to marry, it’s fascinating to know the marriage battle is over: where do I sign up for mine, Mr Cillizza? But with this Beltway conventional wisdom so dispensed, and with these two quite staunch members of the Senate Democrats’ ConservaDem caucus on-board with marriage equality, one has to wonder if tomorrow’s caucus meeting will involve a signup board for days-to-announce: no one wants to be lost in a swamp of other-news, and no one wants to be too far behind the bandwagon to matter.

Photo by FreeKey, in the public domain

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Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge