Josh Barro notes that in the wake of Lisa Murkowski becoming the third Republican senator to announce her support for gay marriage, “Conservative media outlets haven’t been attacking her for it. They haven’t been praising her either. They’ve been ignoring her.” As hard as it might be to think that a mere eight years after George W. Bush rode to re-election in no small part thanks to strategically timed anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendments, a red state senator publicly endorsed gay marriage to conservative…crickets.
Barro explains the silence as coming from the fact that “a substantial share of the staffers at these publications, especially the younger ones, are now supporters of gay marriage,” and “Those who oppose gay marriage are sick to death of talking about the issue. They know they are losing the fight over public opinion and that their complaints are not going to convince anybody.”
Allahpundit, one of the only conservative commentators to take up the announcement, helps explain some of the muted reaction: it’s not exactly what you would call a surprise. Murkowski has never been as party line as her state would indicate, and “with the country distracted by various scandals, a new war in Syria, and the joys of amnesty, it’s safe-ish for a centrist Republican from a reddish state to admit what the whole world already knew.” Especially since Murkowski had already sent plumes of smoke signals skyward to indicate this announcement was coming when she adopted President Obama’s famous hedge and declared her gay marriage views to be “evolving” a few months ago.
What is undeniable is that the United States is undergoing a relatively swift political swing in favor of gay marriage, and those in the media tend to congregate in urban communities that skew socially liberal in the first place. The shift in their circles is often already so complete that, as Barro puts it, “opposing gay marriage has come to be seen as rude in polite society.”
As far as the Washington crowd is concerned, the gay marriage fight is over, and has been for some time. When the first Senate hearings were held in 2011 on repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents states from being forced to recognize gay marriage licenses issued by other states, and prevents the federal government from recognizing them at all, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans were MIA. Orrin Hatch made a brief statement against the repeal at the beginning, but soon all the Republican chairs were empty, despite pleas from traditional marriage advocates leading up to the hearing.
Now all that’s left, in the eyes of many, is to manage the moment until the rest of the country catches up.