A Conservative Cause?
From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
New York GOP Rep. Richard Hanna is one of several prominent Republicans signing a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court backing marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Hanna joins former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, HP CEO Meg Whitman and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney in signing the amicus, which is being filed with the Supreme Court as justices prepare to take on several court cases challenging same-sex marriage laws, including the controversial Proposition 8 measure in California and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In making the argument in favor of same-sex marriage to the court’s conservative majority, the Republican signatories take up an inherently conservative stance: Two parents are better than one to raise a child and that a hands-off government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding who one marries.
Hanna is one of the few current officeholders who so far has signed on to the brief.
Still, the news shouldn’t be wholly surprising for anyone who has followed the evolution of the same-sex marriage debate here in New York or across the country.
That evolution began with the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in New York two years ago. In the aftermath of the 2010 election, a conference call for reporters that was being held by the Empire State Pride Agenda. Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo was about to enter office, Senate Republicans had recapture a narrow, but clear, majority.
Reporters on the call were skeptical when ESPA officials were confident that same-sex marriage would pass in 2011, especially given the failure of the marriage bill when Democrats controlled the Senate.
From the outset, Cuomo and other backers of same-sex marriage sought to neutralize the politics and emotion around the same-sex marriage issue. Instead of making an emotional appeal, there was a variety of carrots and sticks used to argue the point.
At the heart was that this wasn’t a matter of emotion, but of basic fairness. This wasn’t an effort to force religion to accept same-sex marriage, but simply codify it for legal purposes. Cuomo’s entreaties to Senate Republicans included a reminder of their party’s own history in New York: They aren’t national Republicans, but Rockefeller Republicans.
And then there was the support from Wall Street and the business community, many of which now has members who are gay or have LGBT children. There was also the very unsubtle appearance of Ken Mehlman, former President George W. Bush’s campaign manager known for being a prodigious fundraiser, who lobbied Senate Republicans on the issue.
As we know, the measure passed with four Republicans in the Senate voting yes. Of the three running for re-election, only one, Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo who represents a heavily Democratic district, would win.
Mehlman and other wealthy supporters of same-sex marriage would ultimately form a political action committee to help GOP supporters of same-sex marriage in New York primaries, an off-shoot of a national effort.
There was a real sense of disappointed among the deep-pocketed advocacy community over the loss of Sens. Roy McDonald and Stephen Saland. After McDonald lost his September primary to now Sen. Kathy Marchione, there was a not-so-quiet effort to get him back in the race.
But despite the losses of McDonald and Saland, Hanna signing on to the court brief is another signal that the moderate wing of the Republican party remains in New York, even if the delegation overall has become more conservative over the years.
There’s a recognition that while Democrats have been the historic supporters of LGBT rights in the most recent decades, the advocates realize they need Republicans — in a midst of a civil war between a Libertarian wing and a more socially conservative wing — to take up their cause as well.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 26, 2013 at 10:00 am, and is filed under Republicans, Same-sex Marriage. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|