Via Mediaite, second look at the GOP supporting gay marriage?

He’s been saying stuff like this for years (here’s the 2013 version) but it’s buzzy on Twitter this afternoon for a few reasons. One, obviously, is that many national Republicans have stopped actively opposing gay marriage. Rush Limbaugh, although still an opponent, declared the battle lost more than 18 months ago. Even Ted Cruz, the great social conservative hope, won’t go so far as to demand a constitutional amendment instituting “one man, one woman” as the marriage law of the land. He’s a federalist on this subject. Can’t wait to see what Huckabee has to say about that at a GOP presidential debate.

Which brings us to the other reason: Primary season will be in full swing three months from now and this issue is a hot potato for the GOP field, one which may or may not include Huck himself. We should see the whole spectrum — candidates who want to ban the practice as a matter of federal law (Huckabee, Santorum), candidates who’d like to see it banned but want to let the states decide (Cruz, Paul, probably most of the rest), maybe even a candidate who supports legalizing gay marriage (Rob Portman). The dispute over this issue between social cons and more libertarian or federalist-minded Republicans can probably be papered over so long as the nominee personally opposes legalizing gay marriage, but I don’t know what happens if Portman ends up as the party’s pick for president or, more likely, vice president. Will Huck and his supporters tolerate a pro-SSM Republican being one heartbeat away or will this be as much of a litmus test as abortion?

A Twitter pal responded with this when I tweeted out the link to Mediaite’s Huck piece:

Huck ain’t getting 19 percent as a third-party candidate, needless to say, but how about five percent? If not five percent nationally, how about five percent in a few key swing states like North Carolina or Florida, via the panhandle? His threats to the party aren’t altogether idle, especially given his name recognition. What’s more likely to happen, of course, is that the threat of Huck (and running mate Rick Santorum?) going independent will terrify the GOP into taking a more robust anti-SSM line, which will of course cause them headaches in the general election when they face a national electorate that’s trending pro-SSM. (That’s why Cruz is backing a more modest federalist amendment on gay marriage instead of “one man, one woman.”) That could wreck the GOP’s chances too. All of which is to say that, if the party really has become decisively more libertarian over the past few years, we may have reached a point on some issues where the coalition on the right is unstable and at risk of rupturing if the wrong candidate lands on the ticket. If gay-marriage opponents balk at the GOP, they could probably sink it in 2016, at least in key states. If gay-marriage supporters balk, they might be able to sink it too. Can this, er, marriage be saved?