I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t she long ago hop aboard the gay-marriage bandwagon, knowing that it’s now an absolute litmus test for Democrats? Granted, she only formally expressed her support for SSM in 2013, but surely that support encompassed a Supreme Court ruling on equal protection legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The left might tolerate her being a Wall Street crony and a hawk and about 8,000 other things they profess to loathe, but they won’t tolerate her thwarting their “Selma envy” by hedging on gay marriage. They let Obama slide on that in 2008 because it was still unclear at the time whether a pro-SSM Democrat could get elected. After 2012, it isn’t. Of course Hillary is rooting SCOTUS on.
But actually, until today … she wasn’t. Remember the NPR interview last year when she was grilled on her belated support for gay marriage? I certainly do support making it legal, said Hillary — if that’s what states want.
NPR’s TERRY GROSS: “So what’s it like when you’re in office and you have to do all these political calculations to not be able to support something like gay marriage, that you actually believe in. Obviously you feel very committed to human rights and you obviously put gay rights as part of human rights but in doing the calculus you decided you couldn’t support it. Correct me if I’m reading it wrong.”
HILLARY CLINTON: “I think you’re reading it very wrong. I think that, as I said – just as the President has said – just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you’re not a thinking human being. You gather information, you think through positions, you’re not one hundred percent set, thank goodness, you’re constantly re-evaluating where you stand. That is true for me. We talked earlier about Iraq, for goodness sakes. So for me, marriage has always been a matter left to the states and in many of the conversations I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists to work state-by-state. In fact, that is what is working and I think that being in the position that I was in the Senate, fighting employment discrimination which we still have some ways to go, was appropriate at that time.
Hillary would vote yes on SSM and Ted Cruz would vote no, but as a matter of national policy, they share the position that the states should decide whether to recognize gay marriages. Or at least, they did share it — until 10:47 p.m. last night, when Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed innocently wondered in a post whether Hillary’s still sticking to her federalist position with the Supreme Court poised to rule. Roughly 12 hours later, Geidner had his answer: Nope. In a world where sentiment on gay marriage has changed remarkably quickly, Hillary’s 12-hour “evolution” under pressure from one of the Internet’s biggest sites may be the most head-spinning:
The Obama Justice Department has argued that such bans “cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of ‘equal protection of the laws.’”
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has not said whether she agrees with that position. Spokespeople for her campaign have repeatedly stated since Sunday that an answer is forthcoming on the question, but no answer has been provided.
And then the inevitable update from Geidner this morning:
“Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right,” Adrienne Elrod, spokesperson, Hillary for America, told BuzzFeed News. April 15, 2015, at 10:23 a.m.
Here’s my only question: Why did it take this long? Why would the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination need to wait until a few months before SCOTUS’s decision, with BuzzFeed bearing down on her, to issue a check-the-box statement bringing her in line with the liberal orthodoxy that her old boss in the White House created? Some of you are reading that and thinking, “Swing states, obviously.” Why alienate the conservative Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania by being too rah-rah for court-ordered legal SSM coast to coast? The problem with that logic, though, is that she would have had to appease the left by issuing a statement celebrating the decision once it was handed down. Even if, against all odds, SCOTUS ended up siding with Hillary’s federalist position and upholding state marriage bans, she would have had no choice but to pander to her base by condemning the ruling. She was destined to end up taking the position she took today, in other words, whether or not it’ll cost her anything with swing voters. (Probably not.) In which case, why didn’t she accept reality, endorse a Supreme Court ruling for SSM last year in her NPR interview, and show the left that she doesn’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming to a position that represents an overwhelming consensus on their side? I know Hillary’s a timid, tin-eared politician, but this isn’t even Politics 101. This is Politics for Dummies. Even if she doesn’t get it, someone on her staff should have. The only explanation I can come up with, in a weird reversal of Obama 2008, is that Hillary’s actually secretly ambivalent about gay marriage and forced to pretend like she’s a fan in order to preserve her electability. I wonder how many other lefties share that perception today.