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07/28/2014

On NC's Attorney General and the bipartisan hunt for a 'culture war' off ramp

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 At 6.19.41 PmNorth Carolina's Democratic Attorney General has announced that he will no longer defend his state's discriminatory marriage ban, as he believes it would be "futile" in light of today's 4th Circuit ruling in favor of equality:

AG Roy Cooper says federal decision in VA clears way for gay marriage in NC [News & Observer]

And he's right. Marriage equality is inevitable, and people who are inclined to care about justice and their legacies want to be recorded on the right side.

But the politics of it are even more interesting. Increasingly we are seeing political figures from both sides of the aisle jumping at the chance to drop their past resistance to marriage equality (or in the case of Cooper and others, their defense of bad marriage laws) at the very first chance they get. It took Gov. Christie about a half a second after his state Supreme Court opened a path to marriage equality before he announced that his hands were pretty much tied. A similar thing happened in Pennsylvania, where Gov. Corbett (R) announced that he was out of options due to multiple courts' action on behalf of equality. And then there are the Democrats who might be inclined to support (like Cooper) but who just need that one little something—a ruling, a higher ranking supporter, safe poll numbers, a Biden, etc.—so they can come on out and offer their full and unqualified support. We marriage equality activists used to have to poke and prod and get on our knees and beg; people barely need a budge these days.

The truth is that a lot of political figures, from all parties and points of view, are ready to move on from this overwrought fight, which is why you are seeing friend and foe alike look for their easy entrance/exit. For a Democrat, as soon as that one lingering obstacle is moved even somewhat, it's time to dive in head first. For a Republican who might be worried about conservatives voters, it's a search for that one moment they can look too and ask, "eh, whaddya gonna do?" But for many—and an increasing many, at that—the hunt for the next available escape chute is fully on.

Which is good. Marriage equality is wonderful, while the rest of the world is kind of a mess. Maybe the next ten years can be defined by actual social issues that we solve rather than contrived social debates that we belabor?

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