A high court ruling could also allow Republicans to move the argument from a moral or religious one to one focused on states’ rights — will states be federally-mandated to recognize same-sex marriages, no matter how voters feel? Even Sen. Marco Rubio, who believes marriage should between a man and woman, has been framing it that way lately. “Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot,” he said at CPAC.
“If the conversation moves into a states’ rights issue, rather than debating ‘how should we define marriage,’ then Republicans could position this as ‘who should be deciding,’” says Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson. “That change in the equation gives Republicans a slightly better position in terms of a general election electorate.”
A recent Fox News poll showed that while 53 percent of voters think gay marriage is protected under the Constitution, 53 percent also think legalizing it should be left up to the states.
But some Republicans say that the political discourse on gay marriage will continue, no matter how the court rules.