Just a few days after announcing that she will be running for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton has a new view on same-sex marriage. Despite a history of changing views regarding same-sex marriage, she now thinks it should be a constitutional right. Democrats will frame her new position as an evolved worldview. Republicans will call it a flip-flop. Regardless of how you phrase it, Clinton’s new opinion on same sex marriage has one goal: to get her elected.
According to CNN, Clinton spokeswoman Adrienne Elrod issued the following statement, “Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right.” That simple statement represents a significant shift in tone from what Clinton has said about the issue in the past. As a Senate candidate in 2000, for instance, she had the following to say, “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” During the 2008 election cycle, both she and Obama spoke only in favor of civil unions while opposing same-sex marriage outright. As recently as last year, she claimed she personally supported gay marriage, but thought it was an issue that should be left to the states. “I fully endorse the efforts by activists to work state-by-state,” Clinton said in an infamous NPR interview with Terry Gross. Clinton’s recent statement is the first time that she’s declared marriage rights should be guaranteed to same sex couples at the federal level.
All of Clinton’s statements regarding same-sex marriage have been politically calculated. Support for same sex marriage is growing in the United States, so it makes sense that she’d voice her endorsement now. According to a recent CBS News poll, 60 percent of Americans thought it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry. Seventy percent of Democrats were in support of same-sex marriage, as well as 43 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Independents who responded to the poll. Clinton’s decision to oppose marriage rights in 2008 (when support was not as high), but declare her support for the issue now represents how politicized same-sex marriage has become.
No matter how much Clinton changes her viewpoints based on the opinions of voters, she has now become the only 2016 presidential candidate to openly support same-sex marriage. That’s incredible. Even Rand Paul, the libertarian leaning candidate who’s lax on many social issues, opposes a federal gay marriage law. He claims to support working out the issue at the state level, but he’s called same sex-marriage a “moral crisis.” With such growing support of same-sex marriage, Clinton may have found a way to boldly leverage herself ahead amongst social progressives.
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The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments regarding state bans of same sex marriage on April 28. Their decision could impact whether or not gay marriage is legalized nationwide. If it is legalized, it will be interesting to see whether the issue fades from the political discussion. Considering issues like abortion and gun control have yet to disappear despite laws being enacted regarding them, it’s likely that same-sex marriage will continue to be a hot button issue. At least now there’s a candidate that supports it, no matter how much political calculation went into that decision.