Out With A Whimper

Is The GOP Realizing It Has Lost The Marriage Battle?

If there is one place where the GOP’s culture warriors would give full cry to their homophobia, it would be the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. After all, it’s hosted by Ralph Reed, a (crumbling) pillar of the religious right. Red-meat rhetoric is a traditional hallmark of the event. So the big surprise at this year’s conference, which began Thursday, is that keynote speakers were relatively subdued when they spoke about marriage equality.

Sure, there were the obligatory applause lines. But among them, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin reference marriage equality just three times, largely in passing. The clearest call-out was from Rubio, who told the crowd “just because you disagree with someone on the definition of marriage, you get called a bigot.” He also listed traditional marriage as something “to preserve,” like jam or pickles. Lee mentioned traditional marriage in a list of conservative principles that included home-schooling, school prayer and right-to-life.

And that was it. You’d never know that a potentially ground-breaking ruling from the Supreme Court is just around the corner. There were no cries to rally the troops, to complain about judicial activism or to weep about the destruction of America.

All of which leads to the question: have even the most conservative elements of the GOP come to the conclusion that they’ve lost the marriage battle? We can count on the rhetoric when the decision comes down, but they aren’t using it as the wedge issue that they once did. If marriage equality is relegated to the fringe by the Senators speaking at a religious right conference,  you have to conclude that they know it’s game, set and match. Let’s see if the Supreme Court proves them right. The polls already do.

Photo Credit: Ralph Reed on Twitter