What Does Iowa's Gay Marriage Ruling Mean For 2012?

Yesterday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued their unanimous ruling repealing the ban on same-sex marriage. While much coverage has focused on Iowa's becoming the first midwestern state to allow same sex marriage, I think the far more interesting story here is how this will impact the 2012 presidential race.

The New York Times has an article about the strategy behind targeting Iowa and concludes:

The ruling will be like catnip for Republicans running for president in 2012. They have long denounced gay marriage and will use the decision to mine votes in Iowa, the staging ground for the presidential campaign.

It may prove more problematic for President Obama. Like most Democratic politicians, he has favored civil unions, not gay marriage. But the decision will be welcomed by a portion of his base and pressure may build for him to support gay marriage.

Over at The Fix, Chris Cilizza thinks this could pose a big problem for potential presidential candidate Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah.

One person who could potentially be hurt by today's ruling is Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) who has staked out a moderate position on the issue -- expressing his support for civil unions earlier this year despite the fact that large numbers of Utah voters oppose the idea. "I'm a firm believer in the traditional construct of marriage, a man and a woman," the governor told the Deseret News. "But I also think that we can go a greater distance in enhancing equal rights for others in nontraditional relationships."

It remains to be seen whether Huntsman's position -- against same-sex marriage but in support of civil unions -- is too nuanced to pass muster for social conservative voters. But the Iowa decision almost certainly means Huntsman will be on the spot to explain his position as he prepares to run for president.

But it seems to me both of these judgments presume an April 2009 mindset, not one of January 2012. Sure, this is a boon for GOP 2012 hopefuls who traffic in "family values" fearmongering (I'm talking about you, Palin and Huckabee) but it's hardly good news for the Republican field. By the time Iowans begin to caucus in 2012, same sex couples will have been marrying for more than 2 1/2 years in Iowa. Both there and throughout the country, same sex marriage will have become relatively mainstream and normalized and I anticipate we're going to start to see more Democrats come out in favor of gay marriage (as Chuck Schumer recently did) and more Republicans come out in favor of civil unions (as Jon Huntsman recently did.)

So, what does this mean for the Iowa caucuses in 2012? Certainly I'd agree that the Huckabee/Palin school of candidate is now even more likely to win Iowa but it could also lead Iowa down a road to electoral irrelevancy. Already, we saw that in 2008 -- Huckabee, really? -- where New Hampshire, whose electorate is far more consistent with that of the nation as a whole, was the kingmaker. As attitudes continue to shift in this new Obama era, the Huckabees and Palins of the world will continue to be more and more marginalized, which might lead to the emergence of a moderate candidate who'll use New Hampshire as a springboard toward the Republican nomination. Now, of course, the opposite could happen and the conservative wing could really take over the GOP over the next couple years, driving moderates out of the party altogether and ensuring a fringe wingnut becomes their 2012 nominee. While I would welcome this continued marginalization of the Republican Party, a lot can happen in 2 years and I'm not convinced that's the path they're going to take.

Tags: 2012, Gay Marriage (all tags)



Nate Silver addresses this today.

By 2011-2012, marriage equality will be the law in NJ, VT, NH, MA, NY, IA, and I hope CA and several other states as well.  (It would be lovely if President Obama and the Democratic Congressional leaders also made repeal of DOMA a priority between now and then.)  

This may provoke a siege mentality in the reddest of the red states, but they already have anti-marriage amendments.  Meanwhile all the pragmatic and progressive people will notice that the sky hasn't fallen, see the joyful pictures of married couples in the paper, start to learn about all the federal rights that are denied to couples based on CIVIL marital status, etc.  

Anyone concern trolling on this issue--esp. in this political climate--needs to go take a valium and read Nate Silver's analysis of the IA marriage equality decision posted today.  

by chiefscribe 2009-04-04 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Nate Silver addresses this today.

(It would be lovely if President Obama and the Democratic Congressional leaders also made repeal of DOMA a priority between now and then.)

I believe that the repeal of DOMA is entirely contingent on the outcome of the 2010 midterms.

I don't think that it is going to be tackled this year, and the argument will be that it is too risky of an issue to take on in the middle of the economic crisis.  I also don't think that Congress will be willing to touch it next year, because too many Democrats in swing states will be too leary to embrace it.

So, assuming the Democrats can either break even or come out ahead in the midterms, I think this will be tackled early by the 112th Congress sometime in 2011.

Unfortunately, should the GOP prevail in the midterms and retake a bunch of seats, I'm not as confident that we'll see this overturned in Obama's first term.

by Obamaphile 2009-04-05 12:09PM | 0 recs
Yes, this is bad news for Huntsman, Mitt, Crist

And good news for Sarah...

Must be joy joy joy at the Confluence, their NEW gal basically just wired a win in Iowa.

Should be lovely to watch the panic from the RNC if she goes go way out in front in 2012 in Iowa.

Personally, I think the candidate to watch is, of all people, David Petraeus.

My black-ops prediction is, he wants on the ticket as Sara's VP, cause when she gets blasted, he is the defacto nom for 2016, the real year he is going to stage his run at the WH.

So, if I was Huntsman, et all, I would not be all that worried at Sarah getting the Nod in 2012, let her be the sacrificial lamb for the Rush-Joe the Plumber-Glenn Beck wing of the party....

Cause the real fight is in 2016 anyway.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-04 03:34PM | 0 recs

It may prove more problematic for President Obama.

How? I just don't see it. One, he's not likely to have a primary challenger. Two, polls have repeatedly shown that there is an age disparity on the issue. With each passing day, there are fewer of them and more of us.

As for Jon Huntsman, I'd set my sights on 2016 and let the GOP crucify itself on cross of Romney/Huckabee or Palin/Jindal or whatever bizarre combination with which they choose to commit political suicide.

Demographics is political destiny. We own the demographics on this issue.

by Charles Lemos 2009-04-04 03:50PM | 0 recs
One thing that's clear...

... is that this is good news for John McCain.

by Ramo 2009-04-04 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Problematic?

I was going to comment, but you've got it covered.

by vcalzone 2009-04-04 08:46PM | 0 recs
I am thinking this will not come up until 2013

I think there is an expiration date on all of this. As for 2012, the point is probably going to be moot because the Democrats in IA have said they do not plan to bring it up. The likelihood of this happening before 2013 (assuming the stars align) seems slim. So, how will it be an issue?

by bruh3 2009-04-04 03:58PM | 0 recs
if there is a more moderate GOP candidate

He will just skip the Iowa caucuses. It worked for McCain.

Even last fall Doug Gross, an influential Republican who was Mitt Romney's Iowa chairman, said he would advise moderate presidential candidates to skip Iowa.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-04 06:47PM | 0 recs
I have a diary coming, by the way

possibly tomorrow but more likely on Monday about what the Supreme Court ruling will mean for the 2010 races in Iowa.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-04 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: I have a diary coming, by the way

Looking forward to it! I hope it's an optimistic projection... although, my guess is it probably won't be..

by LordMike 2009-04-04 07:40PM | 0 recs
it's a "don't worry, be happy" diary

If the Democrats go down in Iowa in 2010, it will be because of the economy/budget, not marriage equality, in my opinion.

But if I'm wrong, hey, there are some things worth losing elections over.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-05 05:17AM | 0 recs
Florida was kingmaker for Republicans

Not New Hampshire.

by John DE 2009-04-04 08:54PM | 0 recs

I'd say it was South Carolina really.

But had Romney won New Hampshire, there's no way McCain would've won either South Carolina OR Florida. That would've been the end of him right there.  

by DTOzone 2009-04-04 10:10PM | 0 recs
Re: What Does Iowa's Gay Marriage Ruling Mean For

Personally I'm less curious about what it means for 2012-- a lot can happen between then and now, these are busy times and this seems unlikely to be the biggest issue out there three years from now-- and more curious what it means for a DOMA repeal effort, something that's more likely to come up within the next year. We now have three states recognizing gay marriage, that may go up to four in the next month, and many more states currently offer pseudo-marriages of various sorts that are at least in intent meant to be equivalent to marriage. When will the Federal government start recognizing these unions? When will this at least get on the Congressional agenda?

by mcc 2009-04-05 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Iowa's Gay Marriage Ruling Mean For...

those with undifferentiated genitalia?

Those are people whose genitalia can be some sort of mixture of both male and female parts.

Then there's the undifferentiated sexual orientation that may or may not have anything to do with the genitalia as it occurs in the brain--the largest sex organ.

Since it seems natural for people to want to marry, what business is it of the state to say that the genitalia of the persons determines whether they can or can't marry?

by Hempy 2009-04-05 04:22PM | 0 recs


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