Marriage Equality May Be the Biggest Winner of the 2012 Election

| Mon Mar. 25, 2013 11:44 AM EDT

As you probably already know, Sen. Claire McCaskill is the latest politician to evolve on the topic of same-sex marriage:

My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.

This is good news: if a Missouri politician can do this, anyone can do it. On the other hand, it's worth noting that McCaskill waited to make this announcement until she had 68 months to go before her next election. Apparently McCaskill trusts the goodwill of Missouri's voters only just so far.

Still, it's good news. Put this together with Rob Portman's change of heart and Karl Rove's declaration that he could foresee a Republican presidential candidate supporting gay marriage by 2016, and it's pretty obvious that this train is on a downhill run. And it's a funny thing: this might be the single biggest effect of the Republican loss in 2012. They've made it clear that their "soul searching" won't lead to any serious changes in party policy, but they've also made it clear that they want to change something as a symbolic bone to throw to all those demographic groups who hate them. Gay marriage may be the perfect sacrificial lamb. After all, the party's leaders know that the fight against marriage equality is now hopeless; they know it's killing them with young voters; and let's be honest: a great many of them have never truly cared about this. They talk the talk as a sop to the Christian Right, not because of any deep-rooted beliefs of their own.

This all would have happened eventually anyway. But it's the lucky beneficiary of the Republican Party's need for something to represent their "reinvention" after 2012, and that will speed things up. Who would have guessed?

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