One Equal World

A changing of the era

Posted on: March 19, 2012

Great news over at Salon.com.  According to Thomas Schaller, it looks as if the era of politicians exploiting the same-sex issue for their own political gain seems to be over.  The tide is turning with the addition of Maryland and Washington to the six other states who approve same-sex marriage, and Ken Mehlman recognizes this more than most.

“If you look at attitudes today and where they are headed, it’s clear to me that supporting equal rights, including the rights to civil marriage, is a net positive for winning elections, as well as the right thing to do,” Mehlman said in an interview. “By contrast, opposing equal rights is a net negative that gets problematic to more voters each year.”

Mehlman is the former chair of the Republican National Committee, and when he came out in 2010 he ended up taking flak from both the right and the left.  But despite that, he’s worked to further the cause of equality.

“At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” he says. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful.”

As the Salon article brings up, what’s amazing is the sheer amount of change that has occurred in the last 16 years.  In 1996 Clinton campaigned against marriage equality, with Clinton clearly supporting DOMA. And of course, Bush used the issue as a touchstone for his 2004 re-election bid.

But since then everything seems to be changing. Santorum’s views are seen as archaic, and recent polls (like the July 2011 one co-authored by Joel Benenson and Jan van Lohuizen) indicate that the public opinion has dramatically shifted to acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Schaller  puts it nicely when he says , “if not already, soon enough same-sex marriage will act as a wedge issue that works against conservatives, Republicans and opponents of marital equality.”

Let’s hope that day gets here sooner rather than later.

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