You ready for this? Time magazine was prepared to publish a story noting that Warner’s position on SSM remains unclear because his office responded ambiguously when pressed for comment last week. At which point a panicky Warner (he’s up for reelection next year, remember) rushed out a statement on Facebook insisting that, indeed, he too has “evolved” — and yes, he did use that word. Apparently the fact that a prominent Democrat has not yet formally changed his stance on gay marriage now qualifies as breaking news worthy of a hastily composed official response.
Way to deny a guy his very own day of attaboy back-slapping from progressives, Time. Now he has to share the limelight with fellow cynical careerist Claire McCaskill.
“I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do,” he said in an emailed statement to TIME. “Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.”
“I was proud to be the first Virginia governor to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT state workers,” he continued. “In 2010, I supported an end to the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and earlier this month I signed an amicus brief urging the repeal of DOMA. I believe we should continue working to expand equal rights and opportunities for all Americans.”…
Last week, a spokesman in Warner’s office told TIME that opposition to gay marriage was no longer the Senator’s position, but declined to elaborate. On Monday, TIME told Warner’s office that it was preparing a story on his public position on marriage. Hours later, Warner posted a statement announcing his reversal on Facebook and in an emailed statement to TIME.
That makes sense because he has more to fear at this point from liberals in the primary than from the general electorate. As Time notes, his Virginia colleague Tim Kaine endorsed gay marriage two months before the election last year and won anyway. Warner might also be thinking about 2016 if Hillary doesn’t run, and it’s really no longer enough for a Democrat with national ambitions to support SSM. He can’t be seen dragging his feet too much in announcing his “evolution,” as apparently there are just 11 Democrat senators left who have yet to endorse gay marriage. And of those 11, only four told Time when asked that they remain firmly opposed to legalization: Mark Pryor, who’s up next year in a very red state; Joe Manchin, who won’t be up until 2018 but who risks being punished even then by voters in his own very red state; Heidi Heitkamp, who just got elected for the first time in a very red state and probably doesn’t want to be seen as “evolving” quite so quickly; and Tim Johnson, who hails from the very red state next door to Heitkamp’s. Of the four, only Johnson’s views can be safely regarded as heartfelt. He’s reportedly set to announce his retirement tomorrow so he has nothing to lose in stating his true views now.
Exit question: The other seven Dems in the process of “evolving” are Bob Casey, Bill Nelson, Jon Tester, Tom Carper, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Joe Donnelly. Who’s next? Gotta be Carper, the guy from the bluest state of those seven, right?