Troy Price of One Iowa made an extremely important observation about the divide between fiscal and social conservatives and how it played out with last night's virtual tie here in Iowa:
“This extremely close outcome shows that in spite of the millions of dollars and constant campaigning on the backs of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples in Iowa, the attempt by social conservatives to dominate the caucuses simply didn’t work,” Price said. “Rather, this tie between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney shows the deep divisions that exist between social conservatives who want to harm loving and committed couples, and fiscal conservatives who prioritize job creation and a smaller government.”The truth is that the Republicans are not completely populated by people who oppose gay people, our marriages, and our families. My husband caucused in the local GOP caucus last night. At one point, they were reviewing the different candidates stances on different issues. Marriage equality came up (as in, Candidate-X opposes marital rights for gay and lesbian couples) and people began booing. This was the only subject that brought out a negative response from the people at that caucus. Mark heard some people question why it was anyone's business to oppose marital rights for gays or lesbians. Granted, this is Johnson County and it's one of the more liberal portions of the state. But the GOP Caucus was led by Romney and Paul.
I don't think it's a coincidence that those who support Romney and Paul over Santorum and the rest of the pack also support marriage equality in this state. This is the divide within the Republican base. Do they want to promote all families and promote sound economic policy for everyone or do they want to enable the government to disenfranchise gay and lesbian families and allow that effort to distract folks from economic policy?
And I do honestly believe that social moderates on the issue of marriage equality will gradually nudge out the culture warriors who do little but lob grenades at GLBT families and voters. It's already happening. New York wouldn't have marriage equality if it wasn't for fair-minded Republicans. Don't Ask/Don't Tell wouldn't be repealed if GOP legislators weren't willing to step forward and promote equality. The tide is slowly shifting and people are realizing that life won't improve for the majority just by making GLBT people increasingly more miserable.
Marriage equality is a conservative principle. It builds and promotes family and stability. Married men, both gay and straight, are physically and emotionally healthier (statistically speaking) than unmarried men. Our kids benefit from married parents. Our economic goals become more mature when we're married. Most fair-minded people recognize this when they sit down and realistically consider the impact of gay marriage on society. We just need to hold back the culture warriors long enough for the moderates to rebuild their numbers and demonstrate political courage.