Over the weekend, the New Hampshire #FITN Republican Leadership Summit wound down to the tune of reporters asking this season's crop of Republican presidential hopefuls the hive-minded question, "Would you personally attend a gay wedding?"
The question was asked of at least four attendees, by a least four different reporters, and what emerged was a new take on denying civil rights to millions of people. While former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) offered up a flat "no," more mainstream hopefuls like Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) each said, without hesitation, that they would, and Kasich even claimed to have a gay wedding invite in the can. Their reasoning, if you can call it that, is that sure, they'd like to deny millions of people the right to marry whomever they love (Rubio supported DOMA and may have supported a federal marriage amendment, while Kasich supports a federal amendment), but it's nothing personal.
In Rubio's case, at best, he supports putting his hypothetical gay friend's life, love, and happiness up for a vote, but tried to compare his attendance at an imaginary gay wedding with a second or third marriage. The key difference is, of course, that no one is trying to outlaw divorce, or, funnily enough, to deny services to divorced people. At a personal level, though, what does it say about Rubio that he takes his faith seriously enough to support efforts to make it illegal for people to marry, but not seriously enough that he'll show up in person, and forever hold his peace?
This appears to be a new strategy in the GOP's ongoing effort to paper over their horrible civil rights record, an attempt to humanize themselves to other GOP voters who desperately don't want people to think they're bigots, or bigot-enablers. How can they be, when John Kasich has a gay friend?
Unfortunately, these reporters aren't really asking the necessary followup questions, instead allowing these guys to uncritically claim that they can oppose marriage equality by day, and go to gay weddings on the down-low at night. Maybe they should also be asking candidates if they, personally, would ever disproportionately incarcerate a black, or rip a DREAMer kid from her parents.
The worst (or best) response to these questions, though, had to come from Wisconsin Governor and New Hampshire frontrunner Scott Walker, who, when asked by MSNBC's Kasie Hunt if he would attend a gay wedding, literally decided to have his cake and eat it, too:
“That’s certainly a personal issue. Tonette and I and our family already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven't been at a wedding, but that's true even though my position on marriage is still that it's defined between a man and a woman, I still support the constitution of the state, but for someone I love? We've been at a reception.”
So, if Walker really loves you, he will still oppose your right to marry the person you love, and still won't go to your wedding, but he's all about that open bar. At least he'd still have to bring a gift, but it'd probably be a donation in your name to that pizzeria in Indiana.