Hey Republicans, Last Call for the Marriage Equality Bandwagon

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June 27 2011 6:03 PM

Hey Republicans, Last Call for the Marriage Equality Bandwagon

The credit for New York’s gay-marriage legislation that passed late Friday night should go to Gov. Cuomo, the many Democrats in the New York State Assembly and State Senate who worked on the bill, and the untold number of activists who have been fighting for equality for years. So I don’t want to make too much of a hero out of Mark Grisanti , a Republican who formerly opposed gay marriage but whose vote helped the bill garner passage. But I do want to shine extra attention on the comments he made in hopes that he can be an example to others.  "A man can be wiser today than yesterday, but there can be no respect for that man if he has failed to do his duty," he said.

Republican opponents of gay marriage, you might want to keep that phrasing tucked away somewhere, so you can pull it out and use it when you finally face reality. Because if you haven’t already, it’s time. New York will be the sixth state (plus D.C.) to recognize gay marriage. Supporters believe it will pave the way for other states to follow suit and help change public opinion.

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Half of Americans now support same-sex marriage, and support is much more common among young people. It’s not just for liberals! President Bush’s daughter Barbara made a video in support of marriage equality, and Meghan McCain (love her or hate her), has spoken out. And it’s not just for the young! Ted Olson, solicitor general in the Bush administration, has worked to overturn California’s Prop 8 .

There is almost nothing for Republicans to gain by withholding support for gay marriage. Yes, religious conservatives and old folks will be cranky, but where are they going to go? To the Democrats who are more actively pushing the issue? (And I’m looking at the big picture, not individual races where a conservative Democrat could run to the right of someone on marriage.) And there is plenty to lose. Younger voters, and your pride. Because some day gay marriage is going to be a complete non-issue, and there will still be YouTube videos of you saying that " That connections and alliances so unnatural that God and nature seem to forbid them, should be prohibited by positive law." (That’s a quote from a court decision upholding an interracial marriage ban, by the way.) Or you’ll be remembered as fondly as Jesse Helms when he died.  Let’s face it: It’s time to throw in the towel and pick up the rainbow flag.

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

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