Guy Benson

Allahpundit's tongue-in-cheek pool is dwindling, as another "evolving" Democrat has hopped aboard the same-sex marriage bandwagon.  This one's a bit of a surprise, though.  North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who's widely considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats up in 2014, is taking the plunge:
 

Sen. Kay Hagan backed same-sex marriage Wednesday, comparing her decision to Senate colleague Rob Portman’s recent backing on the issue. “Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue. After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry,” Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, said in a public statement released Wednesday. She added: “This wasn’t a decision I came to overnight, like my Republican colleague Rob Portman expressed recently on his own viewpoint.”  


This decision is particularly notable given that less than a year ago, North Carolinians voted overwhelmingly to outlaw any form of legal recognition for gay couples.  'Amendment 1' barred same-sex marriages and civil unions; it passed by a 22-point margin in May of 2012.  Hagan has now sided with the 39 percent of the state's residents who opposed the ban -- so either she's resigned herself to an uphill re-election fight, or she thinks this issue won't really matter to her voters next fall.  Kudos to Hagan, though, for alerting her constituents to her new position prior to the election.  This is a much bolder move that the McCaskill/Tester two-step.  Also, AP's undoubtedly correct in this assessment: "Whatever the reason, this’ll be the ultimate test case of how much of a political liability SSM continues to be. If she can get reelected as a first-term Democratic incumbent in a conservative southern state just two years after it banned gay marriage, then this is effectively a non-issue."  Yup.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has concluded day two of oral arguments over a pair of gay rights cases.  Though the Court appears unlikely to hand down a landmark decision on the Constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act looks to be on the rocks:

 


So Kennedy, an established defender of both federalism and gay rights, can kill two birds with one stone by siding with the liberal wing of the Court to toss out DOMA -- at least in part.  Then again, there's also a chance that the justices will avoid ruling on the law itself by citing "standing" issues (ie, does the House of Representatives have standing to defend this law?)  Another factor to watch is whether the Supremes decide these cases merit "heightened scrutiny," which could impact how they consider the case.  AP explains:
 

The Court only applies “heightened scrutiny” to laws that discriminate against groups that are regarded as being relatively politically powerless. The point of constitutional rights is to protect individuals or minorities who are threatened somehow by the majority, right? But if 53 percent of the country now supports gay marriage, how exactly are gays politically powerless or being threatened? That suggests Roberts would not apply “heightened scrutiny” to DOMA or Prop 8, which in turn means he’s more likely to uphold both laws. Without heightened scrutiny, all the government has to do is show that the law it’s defending has some “rational basis” and the Court will uphold it. (Although do note: Most gay-marriage supporters argue that Prop 8 and other bans have zero rational basis, so it’s possible that Roberts would vote to strike down the laws even without applying heightened scrutiny).


Now everyone holds their breath until June.  I'll leave you with the Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson taking on Piers Morgan on CNN last night.  Even when I happen to generally agree with Morgan, he's completely insufferable:
 


Anderson does a fine job of mounting a defense for traditional marriage, even in the face of constant, sneering interruptions from the host.  Morgan is tag-teaming in this clip with finance guru Suze Orman, an open lesbian.  The optics are as slanted as might be expected: The two supporters of same-sex marriage are perched on set, while Anderson is literally seated beneath them, amongst the (stacked) audience. Anderson cleverly quotes President Obama's call for civil disagreement on this topic after Orman dismisses him as "ignorant;" promising not to retaliate with name-calling of his own is a nice touch, too.  Morgan's at his most obnoxious when feigning incredulity that someone has the temerity to oppose gay marriage, even with a gay person sitting right there.  Anderson correctly notes that no nation on earth had extended marriage rights to same-sex couples until 2000 (when the Netherlands broke the ice).  This isn't necessarily a strong argument on the merits, but it places Morgan's artifice of astonishment into proper context.  Orman even tries to cast Anderson's factual arguments as a negative, derisively calling him "a great recorder."  Criticizing someone for having his "facts down" doesn't strike me as an especially effective tactic, Suze.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography