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Reading political tea leaves on gay marriage: party strategists moving on | Hunter of Justice

Reading political tea leaves on gay marriage: party strategists moving on

by on April 18, 2009  •  In Marriage

According to this week's survey by National Journal of its "political insiders" (and they really are insiders – National Journal supplies the names in each group), a 59% majority of Democratic Party strategists thinks that the Dems should support same-sex marriage. There's very little difference between inside and outside beltway views among the Dems (see details after the jump). Interestingly, the insiders beyond the beltway are slightly more supportive of supporting same-sex marriage than the beltway types. Among the Repubs, there is a big split between those inside and those outside the beltway: only 38% inside the beltway would advise their party to oppose it; 66% outside the beltway would. 

Lots going on in this poll.  Americans overall currently fall with the Repub insiders who are beltway outsiders, i.e. about 60% oppose s/s marriage. But this poll is not about where public opinion is now – it's about where political strategists think it is heading.  In one sense, it's not very surprising: there's a strong sense across the political spectrum that legalizing gay marriage is inevitable. The split among Repubs is intriguing if only because it seems to predict that the GOP is going to be spending huge chunks of time and energy not only on either engaging or avoiding this issue, but also fighting over which to do.

For a lot of lgbt advocates, the poll functions as one more happy indicator of inevitability. But we also need to to think about what "inevitability" really means. We will probably need 20 years or more to achieve equal status in every state – whether it's called marriage or something else.  (I define equal as meaning that both straight and gay couples have the same status under civil law; not separate but equal.) It won't be easy to get rid of those 29 state constitutional amendments. They aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So gay marriage may well be inevitable, but the real questions for the next generation of leaders will be how to get the most out of the meantime, not for the coastal couples, but for couples elsewhere whose only option will be to move or to settle for something less.

Republican Insider (inside Beltway) Votes (60)

My party should support it 8 percent
My party should oppose it 38 percent
My party should avoid the issue 43 percent
Other 10 percent

Republican Insider (outside Beltway) Votes (44)

My party should support it 7 percent
My party should oppose it 66 percent
My party should avoid the issue 27 percent
Other 0 percent

Democratic Insider (within Beltway) Votes (60)

My party should support it 57 percent
My party should oppose it 3 percent
My party should avoid the issue 33 percent
Other 7 percent

Democratic Insider (outside Beltway) Votes (42)

My party should support it 62 percent
My party should oppose it 0 percent
My party should avoid the issue 31 percent
Other 7 percent

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