Kathryn Lopez

Pew Research Center polls suggest that at least half of Americans are opposed to same-sex marriage, but you wouldn't know it from listening to the Republicans. At a debate of presidential candidates in New Hampshire days after the Iowa judicial usurpation, a woman in a diner told Fox News reporter Carl Cameron, "We're the state of 'Live Free or Die,' and people should be able to marry the person they love." In response to her statement, just one candidate, Sen. Sam Brownback. R-Kan., had a retort. His answer was right on: Marriage "is a foundational institution."

Critics of a marriage amendment suggest that the Romney/Brownback position won't fly in Iowa, but they may be reading their own biases into the polling. Iowa has a state Defense of Marriage Act, so the need for a national one has not been deeply felt there. This may change in the wake of the court ruling. A temporary judicial stay has kept a mass same-sex-marriage-license line from forming -- for the time being.

Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and longtime observer of the politics of gay marriage, suggests what might happen next: "The fact that the Iowa legislature has passed some anti-discrimination laws does not in any way say that a marriage amendment will fail. ... it's perfectly possible to imagine a legislature that passed antidiscrimination legislation also voting for a marriage amendment."

Pushing the issue of a marriage amendment is not just the civic duty of candidates who believe in it, it's a fundamental building block of society. It's good politics, which will separate those standing up for the traditional family (popular with a healthy portion of the country) and those radicals -- like Hanson -- who don't.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.