Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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During the fall election campaign, we were–quite thankfully–spared a lot of the usual “culture war” rhetoric about protecting marriage from some imagined assault by same-sex couples. Instead, the campaigns seemed to focus primarily on the economy and addressing the deficit (at the federal level) and balancing budgets (at the state level).

Yet, a return of conservatives to power (or, in some states, their consolidation of power) has too often been followed by a return to the same old culture war politics of beating up on the LGBT community:

In Wyoming, the state Senate recently passed a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The silver lining here is that the language of the original amendment was watered down to leave open the possibility of granting same-sex couples the second-class status of civil unions. The Senate measure must go through two more votes before it goes on to the state House, where its fate is uncertain. Its fate is uncertain not because the House favors same-sex marriage, but because the House has passed its own amendment that would merely “clarify” Wyoming law by denying recognition to out-of-state same-sex marriages. The House measure is considered more likely to ultimately to pass. Maybe these legislators never got the memo telling them that Wyoming’s state motto is “Equal Rights.”

A committee of the Iowa House has passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment in that state to overturn the decision in Varnum v. Brien (previously blogged here, here, and here), which extended marriage to same-sex couples in Iowa in 2009.

In our nation’s capitol, House Republicans are looking to use their new majority to push legislation that would ban same-sex marriage in Washington D.C. And this on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal in the case that unsuccessfully sought to put a referendum to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot in DC.

And all five of the major candidates for chair of the Republican National Committee, including the person ultimately elected to the position, Reince Priebus, expressed their opposition to same-sex marriage during a debate leading up to that vote.

New Hampshire is a relative bright spot here because Republicans in that state actually decided not to go after a repeal of same-sex marriage this year and instead to focus on budget issues. (But, of course, they did seem to leave open the possibility of bringing up repeal next year!) The New Hampshire House Republican leader explained:

He said issues like gay marriage were not the primary reasons voters replaced the Democratic majority in the House with a Republican one, he said.

“We cannot allow ourselves … where we campaigned on one set of issues and governed on another set of issues,” he said.

The exclusion of the controversial issue comes a week after House Republican leaders battled criticism they were not focusing on the issues that voters sent them to Concord to deal with: the state budget, spending reductions and jobs.

-Tony Infanti

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