I’ve been seeing any number of reactions to SE Cupp’s recent coverage of the spat between Mike Pence and Pete Buttigieg over various LGBT questions in general and gay marriage in particular. I’m not going to transcribe the entire commentary, but if you want to watch it you can do so here. The bottom line is that she’s telling the GOP that it’s time to get over the whole gay marriage thing. (“Resist this progress at your own peril.”)
Noticing some of the responses on Twitter, I’ve seen suggestions that perhaps Cupp has been steeping in the Koolaid at CNN for too long and it’s influenced her thinking. Let me assure you, that’s not the case. She’s been a supporter of gay marriage since… forever? If you need more proof of that, watch this brief clip from several years ago when the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was handed down. She very nearly breaks into tears talking about why she feels it was the right thing to do.
While I may not agree with every point SE is making, both on the politics or the underlying policy surrounding this debate, some of her observations on electoral ramifications are hard to ignore. But let me first just remind everyone of my own position on this (which regular readers are probably familiar with). I don’t support gay marriage. I don’t support straight marriage. I support my marriage and the rest of you are pretty much on your own. What I’m opposed to is the idea that the government – at any level – can assume for itself the power to demand a permission slip (called a license) for and charge a tax (called a fee) to any pair of consenting adults before they can hold a private ceremony before friends and family that affects exactly zero other people in the country. In my view, that’s the small government conservative approach to the question.
At the same time, I find it specious to criticize or simply write off anyone who objects to the practice on the basis of firmly held religious beliefs. (If you object because you simply find gay people offputting I don’t know what to tell you.) Attempting to silence the voices of conservatives with deeply held religious values doesn’t advance anyone’s cause. Even if we don’t arrive at the same conclusions when debating such a sensitive topic, it’s okay for us to agree to disagree.
But with all that said, SE makes a few points about the current electoral landscape that can’t be denied. In terms of the perceptions of the public and the majority of elected officials, that ship has pretty much sailed. Nearly all Democrats and liberals, along with the lion’s share of moderates and independents are okay with gay marriage. Heck, roughly half of Republicans are. That doesn’t mean that those of you with the aforementioned religious objections should be instructed to abandon your values. It simply means we need to acknowledge that candidates who campaign on opposition to gay marriage and an intention to relitigate the issue are coming out of the starting gate with a major albatross around their neck.
She’s also warning about the risk the GOP faces when figuring out how to talk about a candidate like Pete Buttigieg. He’s that rarest of political beasts – a liberal who goes out on the trail speaking candidly and passionately about his Christian faith. If you go after him on the gay marriage thing (or “gay anything” for that matter), you’re walking into a trap. Best to simply hoist him up the flagpole on subjects like raising taxes, Medicare for All and socialism in general. He can do the rest of the work for you himself.
I get the impression that this was sort of the underlying message SE was putting out there, and dragging her over a dose of realism is counterproductive.