I’m hardly the first to bring this up, but reactions to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision making marriage equality the law of the land seem to me to have the potential to fracture the Republican Party.
While many Republicans, most notably EVERY Republican seeking their party’s Presidential nomination are beating their breasts and talking Constitutional amendments and/or Supreme Court impeachments, Congress is not taking the step of passing a Constitutional amendment to send to the states. In fact, Senator Majority leader Mitch McConnell had this to say on 7/1/2015:
“It isn’t going to pass. It’s one thing to talk about a constitutional amendment,” he said. “We’ve only done that 27 times in the history of our country. It’s not going to pass.”
Part of this is bowing to reality. Under Article V of the US Constitution you need a 2/3 vote in both houses to pass an Amendment. With 44 Democrats in the Senate, this will not happen. But if enough Democrats could be arm-twisted, three-fourths of the states would need to ratify it. Prior to Obergefell eleven states (22%) enacted marriage equality through legislation or by initiative, so even if an amendment got through Congress, it would be unlikely to be ratified by enough states to make it law.
On the other hand, Republicans in Congress have only been too happy to attempt repeal of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare over fifty times, despite the fact that such things were dead in the Senate and at the White House. So why not push on something popular with primary voters?
Thanks to an amicus (friend of the court) brief by 379 corporations back in March 2015, I think we know the answer. Big business, the bread and butter of the Republican Party, supports marriage equality. Despite grumblings from the rank and file, Republican leaders in Congress and in the Party generally are not going to stand up to their funders and try to roll back marriage equality.
Why did major corporations care about marriage equality? Flexibility for the employer, according to a copy of the brief obtained by the Huffington Post:
“Employers are better served by a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to employee relationships,” reads the brief, filed by global law firm Morgan Lewis. “Allowing same-sex couples to marry improves employee morale and productivity, reduces uncertainty, and removes the wasteful administrative burdens imposed by the current disparity of state law treatment.”
Essentially, keeping track of the paperwork for same-sex couples cut into profits, so it had to go. While they could have gotten consistency by advocating for “traditional marriage” they saw that as a losing battle owing to previous court battles and growing popular support for marriage equality. So they threw their outsized, corporate personhood behind marriage equality.
In doing so, they threw social conservatives under the bus. Then backed it over. Social conservatives don’t even have a realistic option to boycott the corporations who sold out their cause. If they did so, they’d have to give up most of their communications and transportation options and shun a great deal of food in the marketplace.
What will they do? Will they be like progressives in the Democratic Party who stay despite Democratic support for so many things progressives can’t stand – security theater, surveillance, secret trade treaties and so on? Or have they become so angry that they’ll break out of the Republican Party altogether to form some sort of Christian Conservative/”Back to God” movement? Would that movement turn anti-corporate and join progressives in bringing down corporate personhood?
Or will social conservatives become exhausted and stay home? I have no clear ideas but find it hard that social conservatives will simply bow their knees to their party’s corporate masters. What do you think will happen?
Scotus Blog. Obergefell v. Hodges – http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/obergefell-v-hodges/
Carney, Jordain. McConnell: Congress can’t roll back gay marriage decision. Politico, July 01, 2015, – http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/246637-mcconnell-congress-cant-roll-back-gay-marriage-decision
Cornwall, Daniel. Constitution Monday: Changing the Constitution – https://alaskanlibrarian.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/constitution-monday-changing-our-constitution/
US House. Congressional Profile – http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/cong.aspx
Wikipedia. Same Sex Marriage Laws in the United States – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States#States_and_territories_that_fully_licensed.2Frecognized_same-sex_marriage
Berman, Russell. Why Republicans Are Voting to Repeal Obamacare—Again. The Atlantic – http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/why-republicans-are-voting-to-repeal-obamacare-again/385105/
Kaufman, Alexander C. Here Are The 379 Companies Urging The Supreme Court To Support Same-Sex Marriage. Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/05/marriage-equality-amicus_n_6808260.html
Bogage, Jacob. Companies celebrate the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/26/companies-celebrate-the-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-ruling/
Quirk, Mary Beth. America’s Biggest Companies React To SCOTUS’ Same-Sex Marriage Ruling. Consumerist. – http://consumerist.com/2015/06/26/americas-biggest-companies-react-to-scotus-same-sex-marriage-ruling/