Barnes thinks that GOP presidential hopeful Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is going to end up on the wrong side of this sentiment. As I understand Barnes, he sees McCain losing the GOP nomination over the senator’s refusal to vote in favor of the amendment, regardless of his principled reasons (federalism) for his stance.
On cue, another (as-yet-undeclared) Republican presidential hopeful, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has stepped into the fray by sending a letter to all US senators asking them to support the amendment when it comes to a vote tomorrow.
Romney sees himself as uniquely qualified to address this issue because gay marriage was forced on his state two years ago by four members of the state’s supreme court. Romney starts out by saying that “Americans are tolerant, generous, and kind people.” Then he cites some of the drastic changes that have occurred in his state during the past two years, noting that parents have no control over whether young children can be exposed to material promoting homosexual lifestyles in public schools.
Romney directly takes on McCain-like arguments in favor of states rights:
“Some argue that our principles of federalism and local control require us to leave the issue of same sex marriage to the states—which means, as a practical matter, to state courts. Such an argument denies the realities of modern life and would create a chaotic patchwork of inconsistent laws throughout the country. Marriage is not just an activity or practice which is confined to the border of any one state. It is a status that is carried from state to state. Because of this, and because Americans conduct their financial and legal lives in a united country bound by interstate institutions, a national definition of marriage is necessary.”Of course, some will be quick to note that Romney is Mormon, and that the LDS Church recently joined a group of religions and religious leaders that support the amendment (see here). The church then called on its members to contact their US senators regarding the tomorrow’s (June 6) scheduled Senate vote on the amendment (see here). (Note that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) who is also Mormon, argues against the amendment largely along the same lines as Senator McCain—see here.)
Romney is taking a calculated risk. On the one hand, by Barnes’ assessment, Romney’s chances for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination would be toast if he didn’t support the amendment. On the other hand, his critics will be quick to suggest that supporting the amendment means that he will be a puppet for LDS Church leaders on issues they deign to speak out about.
Romney had a third option; he could have taken no public stance on the amendment at all. After all, he’s not a senator, and his state’s US senators are not going to support the amendment by any means. Romney has been very clear about his opposition to his state’s supreme court ruling legalizing gay marriage. By accounts of people of various political persuasions, Romney is a fairly principled guy. But it is possible to be principled about something without speaking out about it, especially when you have no direct control over its outcome.
In other words, Romney’s decision to speak out in favor of the amendment in a very public way is significant. I think people will argue about the ways in which it is significant, but it seems obvious that Romney believes this stance will be in his best political interest.