Quotes of the day

Former President George W. Bush’s pollster for his 2004 re-election, Jan van Lohuizen, has put out a memo to Republican operatives suggesting a shift in the way the GOP discusses same-sex marriage

“Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:

“‘People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.'”


“You can make a case that this is a perfect example of this president as the most liberal president in history and he is systematically changing what America is about,” Brabender said. “What we are betting the ranch on is the October labor statistics, and that is a high risk. … We are playing a dangerous game by raising the stakes too high on something we have too little control of and is often in great flux, and we are bailing on talking about who we are as a country. I think that is a mistake.”…

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Obama handed Romney and the Republican Party a gift — and both will be negligent if they don’t take advantage of it.

“The president yesterday interjected an element into this election cycle that, while some may be uncomfortable dealing with on the Republican side, could very well be a deciding factor for the election if they respond to the president’s challenge to marriage,” Perkins said. “It’s no secret the Republican leadership has not wanted to be out front waving the banner.”


So to figure out whether gay marriage will hurt Obama in the fall, you have to figure whether gay marriage alone is likely to block any of these five paths—that is, whether Obama is likely to receive fewer votes from these specific constituencies in these specific states than Kerry received in 2004. For that to occur, Obama would have to suffer a 32-point net loss in Latino support in Nevada; a 27-point net loss in Latino support in New Mexico; a 27-point net loss in Latino support in Florida; a 9-point net loss in black support in Virginia; a 19-point net loss in black support in North Carolina; a 12-point net loss in working-class support in Iowa; and a 5-point net loss in working-class support in Ohio.

In other words, it’s unlikely. Right now, 43 percent of Latinos—a group made up largely of the kind of younger men and women who are driving population growth in key states—approve of same-sex marriage. Among independents that number is up to 52 percent. And opposition among African-Americans has fallen 20 points since 2008. It’s hard to imagine that Obama’s personal opinion about same-sex marriage—remember, he’s not pushing any kind of federal legislation—will be such a turn-off for key demographic groups in key states that their support for the president will plummet to sub-Kerry levels come November.


Black voters and especially black churches have long opposed gay marriage. But the 40-year-old barber and other African-Americans interviewed in politically key states say their support for Obama remains unshaken…

Mel Brown, a 65-year-old project manager in Philadelphia, says same-sex marriage “is between them and their God. The God I serve does not agree with that.”

Does Obama’s announcement change Brown’s support for the president? “Absolutely not. Because Scripture says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”…

Many black pastors have been reluctant to address same-sex marriage from the pulpit; the topic remains taboo in much of their community. Now, “with the president taking such a clear stand on the issue, and his being such a beloved figure and historic symbol for African-Americans, I think it will advance the conversation,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.


It’s true, says Carmen Fowler LaBerge: You can be a Christian and support same-sex marriage, but, she says, “nobody can say gay marriage is biblical. That’s just foolishness.”

LaBerge resigned her post as minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) after the denomination voted last year to ordain noncelibate gay clergy. She says the Bible is clear.

“From the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament, the only sexual relationships that are affirmed in scripture are those in the context of marriage between one man and one woman,” she says…

Not so fast, says the Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif. She takes her cues from Jesus.

“Jesus never said a single word about anything even remotely connected to homosexuality,” she says.


This new bipartisan politics of religion is a good thing — both for religion and for politics. For several decades, the right has held a monopoly over what it means to be religious in the United States, not to mention Christian or evangelical. The result has been devastating for the image of Christianity. When the Barna Group polled Americans ages 16 to 29 on what words best describe Christianity, the top response was “anti-homosexual.” The other common associations were “judgmental,” “hypocritical” and “too involved in politics.”

It has not helped that for years, conservative politicians have explained their opposition to gay rights by simply stating, “I’m a Christian,” as if that automatically requires one to abhor the idea of same-sex marriage. Recent debates about the protection of religious freedom have assumed that the only religious motives that count are conservative ones. That’s the concept at the core of arguments about the contraception mandate, as well as a number of religious freedom bills moving through state legislatures. Enthusiasm for those efforts might well flag if religious progressives were to demand protection for their beliefs as well…

After years of pretending that the culture wars were a matter of religious views lined up against secular beliefs, politicians are recognizing what average Americans knew all along. A majority of Americans now believe that there is more than one way to get to heaven, pollsters report. Our political discussions finally reflect that there’s also more than one answer to the question: “What would Jesus do?”


Romney did remain consistent on one point: He said he does not intend to use President Obama’s flip-flop of same-sex marriage against him in the campaign. Obama, who opposed gay marriage when he ran for president in 2008, said this week he now supports it. Romney said, “I think the issue of marriage and gay marriage is a very tender and sensitive topic. People come out in different places on this. The president has changed course in regards to this topic. I think that’s his right to do that. I have a different view than he does. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, but I just don’t think that this becomes a hot political issue dividing our nation.”


“The father of the modern conservative movement, former US Senator Barry Goldwater, once said of Jerry Falwell that he needed a kick in the ass. With his speech at Falwell’s Liberty University, it is clear that Governor Romney’s message to Goldwater conservatives is: drop dead

“We have said since our founding in 2009, that we are committed to defeating Barack Obama. We remain committed to Obama’s defeat. However, if Governor Romney expects to be the candidate who can beat Obama in November then he needs to embrace a strategy that makes victory possible – falling into the culture war trap laid by Obama is a guaranteed electoral loser.

“It is not too late. If Governor Romney wants to unite conservatives and motivate Tea Party voters then he needs to embrace bolder positions on taxes, entitlement reform, healthcare and spending, not pander to big government theocrats.”


Via Mediaite.


You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard University historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion was this: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and what they value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every human life. The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of family.

The power of these values, this culture, is evidenced by a recent Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture — what you believe, what you value, how you live — matters. Now, as fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate from time to time. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

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