- August 7, 2014
Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary
In less than 48 hours, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has staked out a perilous position on the issue of marriage equality. After telling a group of Republicans yesterday that he is “in favor of the concept” of a Federal Marriage Amendment, in a new interview released today, the presumptive 2016 GOP presidential candidate seemed to offer an odd shrug.
In a story that will run in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine entitled “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?,” the libertarian darling seemed to acknowledge the need for the GOP to drop its explicit opposition to marriage equality while allowing individual elected officials to remain opposed.
“The party can’t become the opposite of what it is,” Paul explained to author Robert Draper. “If you tell people from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, ‘You know what, guys, we’ve been wrong, and we’re gonna be the pro-gay-marriage party,’ they’re either gonna stay home or — I mean, many of these people joined the Republican Party because of these social issues. So I don’t think we can completely flip. But can we become, to use the overused term, a bigger tent? I think we can and can agree to disagree on a lot of these issues. I think the party will evolve. It’ll either continue to lose, or it’ll become a bigger place where there’s a mixture of opinions.” [Emphasis added.]
In response to Senator Paul’s comments, HRC’s Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz released the following statement:
“I can’t decide whether to be disturbed or pleased, so I’ve settled on confused. I just hope that when the libertarian from Kentucky heads to Iowa and New Hampshire, he doesn’t leave his love of liberty at home. The Republican party must move forward on this issue. The clock is ticking, three marriage cases have already reached the Supreme Court, and there is no doubt that this issue will cause the GOP enormous pain in 2016 if they don’t engage in a meaningful way, and fast.”
According to recent polling, nearly 60 percent of Americans support marriage equality, including a majority of young conservatives and Republicans. According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality. 40 percent of Republicans—an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years—now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to the New York Times. These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.
It is worth noting that Senator Paul’s confusing position on this issue is nothing new. In March 2013, Paul told Fox News Sunday"I don't think the federal government should tell anybody or any state government how they should decide this [issue]." But in June of 2013, he insinuated that marriage equality would lead to bestiality, telling Glenn Beck, "If we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans?”
It’s time for Senator Paul to get his story straight. States from Utah to Arkansas have seen committed and loving gay and lesbian couples marry in the past year. And as more than 70 marriage equality cases move forward in courts across the country, and 3 cases face certiorari petition to the Supreme Court of the United States, the issue of marriage equality is on a rocket ship back to the front pages—whether elected leaders in Washington want it there or not.