Democratic gay-marriage pool update: Freshmen Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp suddenly pro-SSM

posted at 11:21 am on April 5, 2013 by Allahpundit

I was so sure there wouldn’t be another Democratic flip anytime soon after Bill Nelson that I didn’t offer a guess from that party in the last pool thread. There were only six left in the caucus who hadn’t switched yet: Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Tim Johnson, Joe Donnelly, and Heidi Heitkamp. The first three come from very conservative states, Johnson is retiring and has nothing to lose by holding out, and Donnelly and Heitkamp just got elected to their first terms. You’re not going to see a frosh instantly reverse himself on a hot-button social issue three months after being sworn in. The cynicism would be overwhelming, tantamount to a confession that he/she lied nakedly to voters in order to get elected rather than gradually “evolving” over time. Obama half-heartedly kept up the charade about his true beliefs for more than three years as president so that he could pretend he was thinkin’ real hard about this issue. There’s no such pretense in a flip by Donnelly and Heitkamp. You don’t “evolve” from November to April when the subject’s been a national political football for nearly 10 years.

And yet, here we are. Donnelly’s statement:

“In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. While serving in the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to act on a core belief of mine: we are a stronger country when we draw on the strengths of all Americans. I voted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’ With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”

When Obama declared his support for SSM last May, Donnelly politely disagreed. As for Heitkamp:

Today, Senator Heidi Heitkamp released the following statement regarding her position on marriage equality:

“In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships. I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring.”

She was cagier about her views on gay marriage during last year’s race but if she wasn’t officially anti back then, today’s announcement wouldn’t be news. I like Dave Weigel’s spin on this:

The timing does show coordination — the announcements were roughly five minutes apart — but I assume that has more to do with Donnelly and Heitkamp seeing strength in numbers than wanting to move the spotlight off of jobs. If the White House was thinking of using SSM declarations to distract from unemployment, they would have called up Nelson, Mark Warner, Kay Hagan and the rest of the recent converts and asked them to hold off until this morning. I think D and H took the plunge together so that neither of them would have to face the “freshman Dem lied his/her ass off to dupe social cons” fire individually. Since there’s coordination involved, I’m going to credit anyone who picked either Donnelly or Heitkamp as the next to switch in the last pool. Congrats to Mary Sue and alchemist19, who’s celebrating a second pool win in the past week.

Exit question: What do these two flips do to the remaining four Democratic holdouts? Weigel notes a Nate Silver post that shows West Virginia and South Dakota, where Manchin and Johnson are from, respectively, aren’t on pace to flip towards supporting gay marriage for four or five years at least. Arkansas and Louisiana, the home states of Pryor and Landrieu, might take even longer than that. But now that you’re down to this core group, media/liberal scrutiny of them will be intense. There’s no crowd left to hide in, which is probably another reason Donnelly and Heitkamp took the plunge together. Neither one of them wanted to deal with the endless “when are you going to ‘evolve’?” questions from reporters that the other holdouts will now face. I think Johnson is next since he doesn’t have to worry about reelection (his son, who might run to replace him, will end up disagreeing with dad’s position, natch). Do the other three hold out even after that? Or do they flip as a peace offering to national liberals, knowing that they’re going to irritate them soon by voting with the right on gun control? That’s another reason Donnelly and Heitkamp switched, I assume — it buys them a little extra leeway to side with the NRA against Obama.


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First off, I am not talking about the destruction of civilization; I am talking about a fundamental change in it. Second, if you think that Mass. hasn’t had radical changes to it then you haven’t been paying attention. Parental rights have been taken away since 2003. And now school age kids have to change in front of opposite gender childen all in the name of diversity all because of the GLBT lobby in that state.

In all seriousness, would you please provide links?

And marriage is NOT a right. It is privilege given by the state via licenses. Licenses are exclusionary by nature hence why the state gives out licenses..

melle1228 on April 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Chief Justice Earl Warren:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…

That ol’ Loving vs Virginia again!

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…

That ol’ Loving vs Virginia again!

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Marriage is only fundamental “to our very existence and survival” in regards to heterosexual relationships. Mankind has survived just fine without SSM for thousands of years.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Marriage is only fundamental “to our very existence and survival” in regards to heterosexual relationships.

Says who?

Mankind has survived just fine without SSM for thousands of years.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

And will survive at least as long with it.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Marriage is only fundamental “to our very existence and survival” in regards to heterosexual relationships.

Says who?

Says biology.

Mankind has survived just fine without SSM for thousands of years.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

And will survive at least as long with it.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Sodom and Gomorrah could not be reached for comment.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:48 PM

I think these decisions are about money/power, and possibly a few other things. The activist SSMs are, I’m sure, trying to aim public PR at SCOTUS to influence their decision as the Left worked to do so on Obamacare.

INC on April 5, 2013 at 2:50 PM

In all seriousness, would you please provide links?

Dude it has been provided on these boards ad nauseum. Do some google searches

That ol’ Loving vs Virginia again!

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Oh you mean the same SCOTUS that didn’t hear Baker v. Nelson and let the Minnesota ruling stand because “of want of substantial federal question” i.e., the state can regulate marriage..

The questions for decision are whether a marriage of two persons of the same sex is authorized by state statutes and, if not, whether state authorization is constitutionally compelled.

Petitioners, Richard John Baker and James Michael McConnell, both adult male persons, made application to respondent, Gerald R. Nelson, clerk of Hennepin County District Court, for a marriage license, pursuant to Minn.St. 517.08. Respondent declined to issue the license on the sole ground that petitioners were of the same sex, it being undisputed that there were otherwise no statutory impediments to a heterosexual marriage by either petitioner.

The trial court, quashing an alternative writ of mandamus, ruled that respondent was not required to issue a marriage license to petitioners and specifically directed that a marriage license not be issued to them. This appeal is from those orders. We affirm.

[1] 1. Petitioners contend, first, that the absence of an express statutory prohibition against same-sex marriages evinces a legislative intent to authorize such marriages. We think, however, that a sensible reading of the statute discloses a contrary intent.

Minn.St. c. 517, which governs “marriage,” employs that term as one of common usage, meaning the state of union between persons of the opposite sex./1/ It is unrealistic to think that the original drafts-men of our marriage statutes, which date from territorial days, would have used the term in any different sense. The term is of contemporary significance as well, for the present statute is replete with words of heterosexual import such as “husband and wife” and “bride and groom” (the latter words inserted by L.1969, C. 1145, § 3, subd.3).

We hold, therefore, that Minn.St. c. 517 does not authorize marriage between persons of the same sex and that such marriages are accordingly prohibited.

[2] 2. Petitioners contend, second, that Minn.St. c. 517, so interpreted, is unconstitutional. There is a dual aspect to this contention: The prohibition of a same-sex marriage denies petitioners a fundamental right guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, arguably made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, and petitioners are deprived of liberty and property without due process and are denied the equal protection of the laws, both guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment./2/

These constitutional challenges have in common the assertion that the right to marry without regard to the sex of the parties is a fundamental right of all persons and that restricting marriage to only couples of the opposite sex is irrational and invidiously discriminatory. We are not independently persuaded by these contentions and do not find support for them in any decisions of the United States Supreme Court

The iinstitution of marriage as a union man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis. Skinner V. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541, 62 S.Ct. 1110, 1113, 86 L.Ed. 1655, 1660 (1942), which invalidated Oklahoma’s Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act on equal protection grounds, stated in part: “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.” This historic institution manifestly is more deeply founded than the asserted contemporary concept of marriage and societal interests for which petitioners contend. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is not a charter for restructuring it by judicial legislation.

Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965), upon which petitioners rely, does not support a contrary conclusion. A Connecticut criminal statute prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples was held invalid, as violating the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The basic premise of that decision, however, was that the state, having authorized marriage, was without power to intrude upon the right of privacy inherent in the marital relationship. Mr. Justice Douglas, author of the majority opinion, wrote that this criminal statute “operates directly on an intimate relation of husband and wife,” 381 U.S. 482, 85 S.Ct. 1680, 14 L.Ed.2d 513, and that the very idea of its enforcement by police search of “the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives * * * is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship,” 381 U.S. 485, 85 S.Ct.1682, 14 L.Ed.2d 516. In a separate opinion for three justices, Mr. Justice Goldberg similarly abhorred this state disruption of “the traditional relation of the family–a relation as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization.” 381 U.S. 496, 85 S.Ct. 1688,14 L.Ed.2d 522./3/

The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, like the due process clause, is not offended by the state’s classification of persons authorized to marry. There is no irrational or invidious discrimination. Petitioners note that the state does not impose upon heterosexual married couples a condition that they have a proved capacity or declared willingness to procreate, posing a rhetorical demand that this court must read such condition into the statute if same-sex marriages are to be prohibited. Even assuming that such a condition would be neither unrealistic nor offensive under the Griswold rationale, the classification is no more than theoretically imperfect. We are reminded, however, that “abstract symmetry” is not demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment./4/

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967), upon which petitioners additionally rely, does not militate against this conclusion. Virginia’s antimiscegenation statute, prohibiting interracial marriages, was invalidated solely on the grounds of its patent racial discrimination. As Mr. Chief Justice Warren wrote for the court (388 U.S. 12, 87 S.Ct. 1824, 18 L.Ed.2d 1018):

“Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541, 62 S.Ct. 1110, 86 L.Ed. 1655 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 8 S.Ct. 723, 31 L. Ed. 654 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations./5/”

Loving does indicate that not all state restrictions upon the right to marry are beyond reach of the Fourteenth Amendment. But in commonsense and in a constitutional sense, there is a clear distinction between a marital restriction based merely upon race and one based upon the fundamental difference in sex.
We hold, therefore, that Minn.St. c. 517 does not offend the First, Eighth, Ninth, or Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Affirmed.

NOTES

melle1228 on April 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Why are they even doing this? The issue is in the Supreme Court, not up for a vote in the Senate. Does the White House really think a Senate bandwagon will influence the Court? Or are they planning to actually repeal DOMA, which if course all of these flip-flopping Senators should be asked to do now.

rockmom on April 5, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Says biology.

Biology says no such thing.

Sodom and Gomorrah could not be reached for comment.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:48 PM

The subjects of mythological stories seldom can be.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Says biology.

Biology says no such thing.

I guess I need to take on the role of liberal troll here, because HotAir has some of the lamest trolls on the interwebs. I mean, if you’re gonna be obnoxious and ignorant, at least do it with style.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

The subjects of mythological stories seldom can be.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Speaking of mythological stories…

It’s very simple. Look at the picture of Palin taken five weeks before the birth of Trig and tell me if she looks three months pregnant for five.

She’s seven months pregnant in that picture.

Who are you going to believe, Palin or your lying eyes?

chumpThreads on June 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

steebo77 on April 5, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Dude it has been provided on these boards ad nauseum. Do some google searches.

No, I’m not going to hunt down sources for stories you assert are true. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve caught you out fear mongering again.

How predictable.

melle1228 on April 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Yes, I know Loving was not applied to SSM back then, but the case helped establish the principle of equal marriage rights.

By the time we get to 2010:

In the 2010, federal district court decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which overturned California’s Proposition 8 (which restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples), Judge Vaughn R. Walker cited Loving v. Virginia to conclude that “the [constitutional] right to marry protects an individual’s choice of marital partner regardless of gender”.[

Yeah, melle. That was changing history that just went whizzing past your head.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM

I guess I need to take on the role of liberal troll here, because HotAir has some of the lamest trolls on the interwebs. I mean, if you’re gonna be obnoxious and ignorant, at least do it with style.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Translation: “I have no reasonable rebuttal, so WATCH ME TAP DANCE!

I repeat, biology says no such thing.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Yes, I know Loving was not applied to SSM back then, but the case helped establish the principle of equal marriage rights.

As La Shawn Barber wrote several years ago on Loving, “marriage between a man and woman of different races and marriage between people of the same sex aren’t comparable at all.”

INC on April 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Yeah, melle. That was changing history that just went whizzing past your head.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM

You are really going to be disappointed when SCOTUS at best punts on this issue and sends it back to the states. Perry involved California which did what? Oh yeah, made it a STATE issue.

melle1228 on April 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

As La Shawn Barber wrote several years ago on Loving, “marriage between a man and woman of different races and marriage between people of the same sex aren’t comparable at all.”

INC on April 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM

As Mildred Loving wrote on Loving:

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry… I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

I’m gonna go with Mrs. Loving on this one.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

I’m sorry she doesn’t understand the illogic of her position.

INC on April 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

You are really going to be disappointed when SCOTUS at best punts on this issue and sends it back to the states. Perry involved California which did what? Oh yeah, made it a STATE issue.

melle1228 on April 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

We’ll see what SCOTUS does, won’t we?

Alright, I’ve gotta go.

Have a good one, melle1228, et al.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Going on about equality—it’s the wrong math. If you’re going to use math, then set theory is the analogy for marriage.

If you start with the two distinct and defined sets, one of men and the other of women, it’s obvious from our very bodies that the union of one man and one woman is a unique physical union vastly different from any combining of two members of the same set. (There is a reason these two distinct sets have been known as opposites!). The union of two members of these two different sets can also form subsets known as children—something that’s impossible for any members of the same set to accomplish.

This union of two members from each opposite set, and any little subsets that come along is a set classification called a family. Change the name or title, you can’t change the defining characteristics (see Shakespeare and his rose that smells as sweet no matter what it is labeled!).

INC on April 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM

In The Abolition of Man-and-Woman: On Marriage, Grammar, and Legal Strategy, Michael W. Hannon had some interesting observations on “May I?” v. “Can I?” Emphasis added.

Olson and Boies view so-called “gay marriage” as the civil rights issue of our time, because they believe that same-sex couples are being treated as an inferior class of persons by the bigoted majority of our nation’s citizens.

But beneath all of that rhetoric, the arguments undergirding their discrimination claims rest on faulty reasoning. And to get at where they have gone awry, we need a quick refresher course in first grade grammar. Specifically, we need to recall the crucial distinction between “Can I?” and “May I?”

By way of illustration, think back to the embarrassing and obnoxious response your teacher used to give when a student would ask, “Can I go to the bathroom?” “I don’t know,” she would say, “Can you?” The child’s mistake lay in confusing “Can I?”—an interrogative dealing with possibility—with “May I?”—which pertains rather to permissibility.

Olson, Boies, and their allies have systematically confused a debate about metaphysical possibility with one about political permissibility. They are arguing that our government ought to let same-sex couples marry, and they are convinced that their opponents are arguing over the same point, just on the other side of the issue.

But that is a gross mischaracterization of the disagreement. For our position is not that the government should refuse to let such couples marry, but rather that the government is utterly impotent with regard to this question. Our response to same-sex couples desirous of marriage is not “You may not,” but rather, “You cannot.” We do not seek to bar anyone from marriage; we just believe marriage is a union that is necessarily and by its very nature heterosexual.

INC on April 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Translation: “I have no reasonable rebuttal, so WATCH ME TAP DANCE!

I repeat, biology says no such thing.

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Come on, you’re not even trying anymore – you forgot to call me a bigot, a racist, & a puppy-kicker.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

…ok, one more…

Come on, you’re not even trying anymore – you forgot to call me a bigot, a racist, & a puppy-kicker.

IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

When your best response is to complain that I’ve failed to call you names, you’re the one who’s given up!

Ok, now I’m outta here!

chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM

I think every time one of these senators “evolves” it weakens the chances that the Supreme Court constitutionalizes ssm. As Justice Roberts said at oral arguments, “politicians are falling over themselves to adopt your position” so why should the court get in the way? I think, in fact, these “evolutions” strengthen the chances that the court will uphold Prop 8 on its merits.
I know a lot of people at this site (and others) think the court is likely to dismiss the case on standing, but as a clear majority of the justices, including Sotomayer, seemed to understand, doing that would set a dangerous precedent in giving governors the right to kill laws they don’t like. Itr’s likewise with the ninth circuit decision: upholding it would give STATE courts the ability to pre-empt citizen-led constitutional amendment drives merely by ruling first. And on the DOJ’s eight-state argument, virtually every justice, left and right, realized how unworkable that would be. Barring the court DIGing one or both cases (which would make them look like absolute cowards) that means they have to either uphold Prop 8 or constitutionalize ssm. The senators may be seriously undercutting the possibility of the latter.

senor on April 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM

I imagine that if it again became politically correct to burn Jews they would find out they were hugely in favor.

enginemike on April 5, 2013 at 6:38 PM

past your head.

chumpTesticles on April 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM

chumps chewing it again!

KOOLAID2 on April 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Mankind has survived just fine without SSM for thousands of years.
IcedTea on April 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

And will survive at least as long with it.
chumpThreads on April 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

No, it won’t survive. The normalization of homosexuality has been a mark of the decline and fall of every great civilization in the history of the world. And in each there were chumps defending it right up to the time the barbarians came crashing through the gates.

tommyboy on April 7, 2013 at 6:45 AM

It’s an embarrassment to be registered as Republican. Utter embarrassment.

Lourdes on April 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

I think every time one of these senators “evolves” it weakens the chances that the Supreme Court constitutionalizes ssm. As Justice Roberts said at oral arguments, “politicians are falling over themselves to adopt your position” so why should the court get in the way? I think, in fact, these “evolutions” strengthen the chances that the court will uphold Prop 8 on its merits.
I know a lot of people at this site (and others) think the court is likely to dismiss the case on standing, but as a clear majority of the justices, including Sotomayer, seemed to understand, doing that would set a dangerous precedent in giving governors the right to kill laws they don’t like. Itr’s likewise with the ninth circuit decision: upholding it would give STATE courts the ability to pre-empt citizen-led constitutional amendment drives merely by ruling first. And on the DOJ’s eight-state argument, virtually every justice, left and right, realized how unworkable that would be. Barring the court DIGing one or both cases (which would make them look like absolute cowards) that means they have to either uphold Prop 8 or constitutionalize ssm. The senators may be seriously undercutting the possibility of the latter.

senor on April 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM

I would really like to believe what you have expressed there (all of it) is accurate.

I don’t have faith enough to believe it all, however, as accurate because I don’t think the current level of human intelligence and wisdom present in Congress AND the Supreme Court is up to par.

Lourdes on April 7, 2013 at 8:52 AM

There’s as much demagoguery coming from many Evangelicals/Fundamentalists …And it’s that kind of atmosphere that too often provides the catalyst for the sideshow most of these threads denigrate into just here at HA.

JetBoy on April 5, 2013 at 11:49 AM

This isn’t the first Sunday morning you’ve shown up here on one “of these threads” and bashed, however snidely, Christians and Christian theology.

By the way, in case you somehow missed it, the Catholic theology speaks quite directly about this issue, too.

“Bible thumpers”? That’s God’s Word, so most of us are fine with thumping it, reading it, embracing it.

You name-call and smear Christians continually in your vanity promoting your and others homosexuality. I’m still wondering how in heck you think anyone believes you are “Catholic”.

Lourdes on April 7, 2013 at 9:03 AM

No, it won’t survive. The normalization of homosexuality has been a mark of the decline and fall of every great civilization in the history of the world. And in each there were chumps defending it right up to the time the barbarians came crashing through the gates.

tommyboy on April 7, 2013 at 6:45 AM

Your baseless assertion is the very definition of a “talking point”. It has no basis in reality or fact.

chumpThreads on April 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Your baseless assertion is the very definition of a “talking point”. It has no basis in reality or fact.

chumpThreads on April 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

You know as much about history as you do about politics, stringboy.

MelonCollie on April 7, 2013 at 10:09 PM

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