Riding a wave of conservative fervor over gay marriage and “traditional” social values, Texas Republican Ted Cruz has surged upward in national presidential polls and major donor support.
But even as he rallied Thursday with Christian home school parents in Des Moines, Iowa, metrics chronicling a major national swing in favor of same-sex marriage and gay rights threatens the senator’s long-term prospects – not only in a general election but in the GOP primaries.
Cruz has aimed squarely at religious conservatives in his quest to be president, but a raft of polls suggests that he and other evangelical candidates could be mining a shrinking older demographic that remains morally opposed to gay marriage.
While the entire GOP field also opposes same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds, so far only Cruz has made religious values the centerpiece of his campaign as he seeks to lock down evangelical voters who make up a majority of GOP voters in South Carolina and the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.
Rolling out his campaign March 23 at Liberty University, the Christian college founded in Virginia by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, Cruz noted that “roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting,” and called on “courageous conservatives” to rise up.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said that despite the polls, the campaign’s message on religious freedom resonates with voters who don’t believe government should be able to force people and businesses to accept practices that go against their religious beliefs.
“There are still millions of Americans who believe in the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman,” Tyler said. “It’s not only evangelicals. The Catholic Church is pretty clear on this also.”
Cruz’s campaign announcement dovetailed with the controversy over new religious freedom protections in Indiana that critics see as a way to discriminate against gays.
He consistently describes himself as being “on the front lines defending life and standing up for marriage.” He has drafted a “State Marriage Defense Act” which would give states the right to define marriage, keeping it out of the purview of Congress as well as the Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a ruling on same-sex marriage by June.
Given Cruz’s general inability to tell the truth, I don’t know how seriously one should take his assertion about the number of “born-again Christians” who don’t vote. The story cites the usual polling evidence about how far the country has come on attitudes towards same sex marriage. As far as that goes, however, remember that the opinions one expresses to pollsters and the opinions one expresses at the ballot box are two different things. I’m sure there are plenty of people who do support same sex marriage who don’t vote, too.
Cruz isn’t limiting his crusade to the campaign trail, either.
Sen. Ted Cruz has joined five other Republican senators–and 51 representatives–in filing an advisory legal brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the right of states to make gay marriage illegal. Eight of the 51 representatives are also from Texas, including Reps. Pete Olson, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Sessions, and Randy Weber.
In the brief, the lawmakers make two broad arguments: That the states, not the federal government, have long had the almost exclusive right to set rules for marriage, and, that “seven principles of federalism and judicial restraint” counsel caution as the justices ponder whether to decide such a weighty and fast-evolving issue.
Today’s brief on behalf of Cruz and other lawmakers takes a similar approach. It doesn’t attempt to raise the arguments against gay marriage that have been disproved at trial. Instead, it simply argues that it’s not a decision that the Supreme Court should force on states.
It could prove to be a risky strategy, but given the results of the Prop 8 federal trial, when evidence in support of policy claims against gay marriage was obliterated, it may well be all the defenders of traditional marriage have.
If nothing else, it’s kind of refreshing that the haters have given up on the idea that “marriage is for procreation” and “children do best with one man and one woman” and all those other pathetic arguments that have been repeatedly shredded. Even they seem to recognize that’s a loser – I suppose losing so many times has that effect. I don’t see how this argument is any better, mind you, but at least they’ve moved on. It’s a twisted kind of progress, I guess.