U.S. Presidential elections are an imposing thing because, while they happen every four years, candidates start making noise about them over 30 months before the election.
That's the case for the 2016 elections, wherein yesterday's New Hampshire Freedom Summit was being advertised as the unofficial start of the Republican primaries. Republicans who would like to become the next President find themselves in an interesting position when it comes to some of the party's positions. Polling for some socially conservative ideas generally finds that they're … to put this politely, not very popular across the entire country. To pick on marriage equality in particular, the national dynamic has basically shifted over the past decade:
That national dynamic makes these words of the 2012 Republican Party platform seem, to once again be polite, out of date:
we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage
At the time of that election, only 7 states (and D.C.) had legal marriage equality. As of right now, 16 states (and D.C.) have it, a seventeenth will have it starting in a month and a half, and another five states are on the burner until their circuit courts figure out what to do (The Tenth Circuit discussed Utah's recently dismissed ban a few days ago, we'll see what happens with that). By November of 2016, marriage equality might not even be something under debate in the U.S. anymore: the Supreme Court might have finally decided that states can no longer ban it.
In light of all of these trends in national politics, what did two Republican wannabe Presidential nominees say about this issue yesterday?
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): I'm a believer in traditional marriage. I believe that, you know, there is something important to life, and it comes from God. But I'm also a believer that a lot of the way our country was founded was upon federalism.
Senator Paul's words are not that different from what they've been since he started running for the Senate in 2009.
Is Senator Paul okay with your big gay wedding?
Yes, if the state you are living in is okay with it, and if you're okay with maybe making all currently married couples lose some of their federally-recognized rights.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX): We have 50 states with different values, with different mores, and we would expect different states to adopt different laws. I don't think the federal government should be trying to force the states to adopt gay marriage in all 50 states. If the citizens of the state make that decision, they have the Constitutional authority to do that.
If Senator Cruz's remarks sound weird to you, let me make a quick tangent here. In 1996, the US federal government decided, via the Defense of Marriage Act, that it was (a) not going to recognize marriage equality, and (b) allow states to not recognize marriages performed in different states. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down that first part of DOMA was invalid. The chaos that that caused includes: same-sex couples can file their federal taxes together. In February of this year, Senator Cruz introduced the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014, which would annul the Supreme Court's 2013 decision on DOMA.
Is Senator Cruz okay with your big gay wedding?
Yes, if the state you are living in is okay with it, and if you don't plan on moving to any state where your marriage is illegal.
Obviously a lot of time stands between now and when the Republican nominee for President for 2016 is chosen. But it's interesting that two of the frontrunners are doing their best at trying to change the U.S. political conversation about marriage equality from It's something the Republican Party does not believe in to It's something the Republican Party does not believe in at a federal level.
This article inspired by reading the Buzzfeed article linked above, and by reading an amusing comment stating that io9 did an announcement that they are openly biased about what they report and that they have no issue with making science political, so, they publish this article which supports Democrats. Hopefully this article helps that commentator feel less angry about io9's political science content.