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December 20, 2012

Newt’s major turnaround: he accepts the ‘reality’ of marriage equality

Posted in: LGBT,marriage equality,Republicans

Perhaps Newt Gingrich is finally seeing the handwriting on the wall (Dick Cheney beat him on this account long ago), and figures the tide has turned against fighting the progress being made on the LGBT civil rights front when it comes to the right of same-sex couples to marry. (Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner):

“The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to … accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period,” Gingrich told The Huffington Post in a story published on Thursday.

Gingrich “continued to profess a belief that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman,” Sam Stein and Jon Ward report, but “suggested that the party (and he himself) could accept a distinction between a ‘marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state’ — the latter being acceptable.”

Of the change, though, Gingrich said, “I think that this will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with.”

It’s time to get a grip and move on. This is a major public shift because Gingrich oversaw passage of the DOMA when he served as speaker of the House in the 1990s.

Regarding the time when Gingrich served as House speaker and the Defense of Marriage Act, now before the Supreme Court, was put up for debate, he said, “I didn’t think that was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act. It didn’t seem at the time to be anything like as big a wave of change as we are now seeing.”

Several others involved in the 1996 law’s passage — including Rep. Bob Barr, who sponsored the legislation, and President Clinton, who signed it into law — have since said that they now oppose DOMA and support marriage equality.

It will be interesting to see how the social conservatives will react to this. From a PR perspective, Gingrich’s move is a signal that the fringe bigots may be the ones going under the bus in the next election cycle. The homophobes and bible beaters still hold a lot of sway, and it’s going to be hard for the mainstream conservatives (I won’t bother using the term “moderate” – I think the GOP extinguished and expelled those folks long ago) to break that relationship. After all the fringe activist base knows how to organize and get out the vote.

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