The Republican Party in 2004 used votes on toeivah marriage in more than 20 states as a “wedge” issue to rouse the party faithful and turn out votes that reelected President Bush.
By contrast, GOP leaders appear to be following the maxim “Silence is Golden!” in reacting to a federal judge’s ruling against California’s Prop. 8, which banned toeivah marriage in America’s largest state.
Rush Limbaugh is the exception.
The radio talker, who reaches the nation’s biggest conservative audience, erupted at last week’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker.
“The American people are boiling, ” Limbaugh declared. “The American people are furious. My e-mails are unbelievable. This federal judge, this decision, Prop. 8, California has just put people over the edge, and all of these decisions are coming one after another from all corners of the federal government.
“It’s as if we have absolutely no say in what is going on all around us. Decisions are being made for us, in lieu of us and imposed on us . . . We’re trying to live our lives, follow the rules. We have these institutions, the federal judiciary now run by leftist nutjobs picking us apart.”
If there’s a sense of bitterness in Limbaugh’s words, consider the reasons behind it.
Walker was nominated to the federal bench by a Republican president, George H. W. Bush.
A lead lawyer for plaintiffs challenging the toeivah marriage ban was Ted Olson, Solicitor General of the United States under President George W. Bush, and long the right’s leading advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I don’t know what’s happened to Ted Olson,” thundered Limbaugh. “I have no clue.”
“Ted Olson used to be one of us. He used to be anti-judicial activism. I don’t know. As with abortion, liberals are lying about the Constitution. They dress up their opinions as if they are law and legitimate, then they impose them.”
But Republican strategist may be operating out of a different motivation. They don’t need toeivah marriage as a weapon for the arsenal in this year’s mid-term Congressional elections.
“In 2004 the Republicans needed to do everything they could to motivate their base,” Dan Balz, Washington Post columnist, said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“Their base this year is highly motivated. They don’t need to do more to crank up the anger.”
After Walker’s ruling last week, no major Republican candidate in Washington State sent out a release or statement. The GOP hammered at Friday’s so-so jobs report and denounced Congress’ aid package for teachers and states.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said on Face the Nation that the fight over toeivah marriage is “far from over,” and that a resolution will be introduced when the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes this week.
Opinion polls have shown a steady erosion in opposition to toeivah marriage.
California voters passed Prop. 8 by a narrow 52-48 margin in 2008. Surveys taken this spring suggest that the measure would be rejected were it put back on the ballot.
California’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, lately moving to the middle, issued a statement endorsing “everything but marriage” – the domestic partnership law that grants rights enjoyed by married couples.
Attorney General Jerry Brown, seeking a return to the California governorship, warmly endorsed Walker’s ruling.
Two states voted on partnerships last November.
Maine voted against toeivah marriage by a 51-49 margin. Washington passed Referendum 71, approving the “everything but marriage” law enacted by the State Legislature.
The Washington Poll has found majority support for either toeivah marriage or “everything but marriage”.
Polls across the country show younger voters in support of toeivah marriage. Opposition is concentrated among those over 65.
“Public opinion is changing on this, fairly dramatically over the last four or five years,” Balz said Sunday. “But it’s not at the point where there’s majority opinion in a majority of states in favor of [toeivah] marriage.”
Limbaugh, a veteran of four marriages and three divorces, sees only a nefarious agenda.
“They seek to impose their perverted views, their depraved views on family and marriage,” he thundered. “Nobody’s denying anybody the right to get married. Marriage? There’s a definition of it, for it. It means something. Marriage is a union of a man and a woman.
And, he concluded, “This is about destroying an institution.”