The Corner

Marriage Federalism Is Popular

Last week I suggested that Republicans are suffering from excessive angst about the political costs of opposing same-sex marriage. In the absence of a Supreme Court decision requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages, conservative candidates for federal office in 2016 should say that they oppose it, why they oppose it, that they understand that many people of good will disagree, and that they have no intention (or power) to stand in the way of states that chose to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

It’s worth noting that a state-by-state approach appears to be popular. My AEI colleague Karlyn Bowman points out that the most recent CBS/New York Times poll on the subject, taken in February 2014, found 64 percent of the public in favor of letting individual states set marriage policy and 33 percent in favor of a federal solution. And that preference appears to have grown a little bit more pronounced between 2012 and 2014. The same pollster, incidentally, also finds a preference for letting states take the lead on marijuana policy.

My guess is that if the Supreme Court rules for coast-to-coast recognition of same-sex marriage, most people in polls will say that they like the decision–but maybe not if the pollsters ask them about the alternative of letting states decide.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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