Among the exchanges that garnered the most attention during CNN's recent LGBT forum with the 2020 Democratic field (I offered additional thoughts here on issues ranging from showcasing young trans kids to advocating revisiting laws about informed consent for sexually-active people with HIV) was this dismissive answer from Elizabeth Warren about citizens who hold bona fide religious beliefs on the definition of marriage:
"I'm going to assume it is a guy who said that. And I'm going to say, 'Well, then just marry one woman.' I'm cool with that...Assuming you can find one."
First, notice how this clip is labeled by the supposedly impartial journalists at Time. They call Warren's riposte "the ultimate response" to the question, which is the sort of high-fiving sycophancy one might expect from advocacy groups or her own campaign. Second, notice that she assumes the hypothetical backward bigot (her implication, if not her term) is a man, even though tens of millions of American women oppose same-sex marriage, according to polls. This quip is presumptuous signaling and pandering, which I suppose is still better than dishonest signaling and pandering. Finally, pay attention to the line that drew the most attention: Namely, Warren's snark suggesting that a man with traditional views on marriage may struggle to find any women willing to marry him. Usually, politicians pretend to respect people with opposing views on difficult issues; Warren makes no such effort here, going for a laugh line zinger that was destined to appeal to the (rather small) target audience.
But her dripping disdain for those who dissent from her worldview elicited concern from some on the center-Left, who openly worried that this hard-nosed approach would not succeed in winning over moderate and independent voters who aren't already the sort of hardcore partisans (heavily white progressives) who are thrilled by Elizabeth Warren:
Warren’s same-sex marriage quip captures what some find exciting — and others distressing — about her. https://t.co/X9AWIQ9B3R— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) October 12, 2019
The premise that Warren risked turning off potential supporters, in both the primary and the general, was waved off by many of her core supporters (heavily white progressives, especially in the press), who suggested that anyone who's still against gay marriage in 2019 would not seriously consider voting for her, so why bother? Well, now that you mention it:
Per Pew Research: 75% of Dem/Dem leaners favor same-sex marriage, though "only" 64% of moderate/conservative Dems do. 51% of African-Americans (a group 9:1 Dem and pivotal in a Dem primary) do.— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) October 12, 2019
Cox's Twitter profile indicates that his full name is "Morgan W. Cox III" and he is a partner at the investment firm Marquis Group. The Marquis Group is located in Plano, Tex., part of the larger Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. FEC filings show that a "Morgan Cox III" from Plano, Tex., who listed his occupation as "investor" donated the legal maximum of $2,700 to Warren's Senate primary campaign in 2017, followed by two donations totaling $2,700 to her general election campaign the following year. Cox also donated $2,700 to the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund PAC...The lack of disclosure comes after CNN was criticized in February for not disclosing the Democratic Party ties of town hall participants who asked harsh questions of outsider presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), including identifying the Baltimore County Democratic Party chairwoman as a "former biology professor." A CNN spokesperson admitted in a statement that they "should have more fully identified any political affiliations" in response to the February controversy.
I wouldn't flag this as a massive journalistic scandal, but viewers would have benefited from the information that the person presenting this softball (if valid) hypothetical happened to be a multi-maxed out donor to the politician on the other end of the question. Another curiosity: How many people in the hall represented the one-quarter of Democratic voters who don't favor same-sex marriage? The fact that it took a gay rights activist to effectively play 'devil's advocate' is interesting. I'll leave you with Beto O'Rourke doubling down on the unconstitutional, illiberal, punitive viewpoint discrimination scheme he promoted at the CNN event, zealously supporting the intrusion of state against church -- followed by openly gay candidate Mayor Pete pushing back:
Pete Buttigieg on stripping churches of tax exemptions, as Beto suggests: “the idea that you're going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven't found their way toward blessing same sex marriage— I'm not sure he understood the implications of what he was saying” pic.twitter.com/DE1bon7zAG— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) October 13, 2019
Will this beef come up at tonight's debate? And where will the rest of the field come down on the underlying issue?