Well, Christmas didn’t exactly come early for social conservatives today. But despite the victory that the Supreme Court handed to same-sex marriage advocates, some of the most vocal supporters of traditional marriage aren’t completely disheartened. The consensus: Wednesday was a setback, but not a devastation.
“The traditional position on marriage, which has prevailed for a couple thousand years in Western civilization, will be less safe when the sun goes down tonight than it was when the sun went up this morning,” says Gary Bauer. But, he adds, at least the Court didn’t say people have a right to same-sex marriage.
Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition says the first step is a careful review of the decision. It’s theoretically possible DOMA could be reconfigured to fall within the Court’s bounds, he tells me, and social conservatives are focusing on that first. Plus, Reed adds, the decision could be expensive.
“If you could make the case that people going to these states where same-sex marriage is legal were simply doing so for the purpose of qualifying for federal benefits, then you would be able to establish a legal standard that did not involve discrimination but had a compelling fiscal case,” he says.
“It has enormous and unforeseen fiscal implications,” he adds, especially given the potential for a significant increase in expenditures on Social Security survivor benefits.
Reed adds that, as bad as today was for social conservatives, 70 percent of Americans still live in states that define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Before today, it was 80 percent; California is the game-changer there.
“The Proposition 8 case was a travesty in many ways,” says Chris Plante of the National Organization for Marriage. “Seven million–plus people voted to define marriage as one man and one woman, and the Supreme Court has left them with no way to have a voice or defend their vote.”
He says that since states can still define marriage as they please, his group will redouble its efforts on that front, and he expects memberships and donations to increase. “The role of the National Organization for Marriage will be even more prominent as we help states defend marriage as one man and one woman,” he says.
And they’ll be working toward a federal marriage amendment. Plante adds that “it’s going to be a hard row to hoe.” Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.) announced today that he plans to introduce a federal marriage amendment because of the Court’s ruling.
And Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum says same-sex marriage probably doesn’t have as much support as some believe.
“I think the Supreme Court decision does not reflect where the American people are on this issue,” she tells me. “It’s true that several states have passed gay marriage, but there’s no indication that this is what the American people want, generally.”