A White Elephant What are we to make of a lifelong Republican strategist and opponent of marriage equality who does a complete 180 and decides, not only that he’s now pro-gay marriage, but that he plans to spearhead an effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Arizona and Florida?
This would describe Tim Mooney, a Rick Perry associate who has advised Republican candidates on how to turn gay marriage into a wedge issue, and who surfaced this year with a plan to put marriage equality on the ballot in two states that have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which would entail repealing the existing laws. And who could object to that?
The trouble is, Arizona and Florida are both states where marriage equality would almost certainly go down to defeat if put to a popular vote. Such an outcome could deal a serious blow to the momentum for marriage equality across the U.S. GLBT activists and organizations have responded with skepticism and withheld their support, and with good reason: both states require a super-majority to repeal a constitutional amendment—in Florida it’s an insurmountable sixty percent—and both run behind the national average in public support for marriage equality.
Whether defeats in these states would in fact slow down the marriage bandwagon is open to question. It may be that the urge to re-enact marriage bans for no reason is akin to the U.S. House voting to repeal Obamacare for the thirty-something’th time: it’s pointless, but it feels so good.