There’s a thread going around these days that the GOP establishment would like nothing more than for the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA.
The establishment knows it can’t oppose marriage equality forever, and the cracks in its facade are already showing, both with Sen. Rob Portman’s announcement that he supports marriage equality and the hint in the 2012 post-mortem report that opposition to marriage is a demographic timebomb.
But if the Supreme Court decides to take the weasel road by striking down DOMA and leaving marriage up to the states, the GOP may have the worst of all possible worlds. Here’s why:
- Statewide ballot measures to approve marriage equality will multiply, which means the religious right will be out in force. If the party is wishy washy, they’ll be very angry, which will affect turnout for other races. If the party forsakes them altogether, there will be a gigantic rift in the party (which is bound to come anyway).
- A Court ruling that kicks the can down the road is going to be the Lawyer Full Employment Act. We will start seeing lots of cases in which couples married in one state seek recognition in a state where they can’t marry. All of that means lots of publicity and more questions.
- The party may modify, but individual candidates can’t. Can you imagine a GOP presidential primary slate in 2016 in which opposition to ballot measures isn’t a litmus test for the base?
- The nutburgers are likely to get nuttier. The folks the party elevates aren’t renowned for their diplomacy, and when under the gun, they say some pretty crazy and offensive things, all in the party’s name.
In short, things just get even messier for Republicans. Perhaps collective amnesia will eventually solve their problem, but it’s not going anyway any time soon.