Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood has joined a large group of Republicans arguing for same-sex marriage in the US Supreme Court. Prominent
conservatives and many of the largest US corporations now favor gay marriage as well.
By Brad Knickerbocker
Movie icon Clint Eastwood – who famously mocked Barack Obama at the
Republican convention last summer – has joined the President in
supporting same-sex marriage.
No, Mr. Eastwood – he of that empty chair used as a prop in Tampa,
Fla. – has not shucked his generally conservative ways. But he has
joined with more than 100 other conservatives and Republicans who
recently came out for gay marriage, among them former governors, GOP
administration senior officials, and prominent right-leaning pundits.
In fact, as Mike Flynn at Breitbart.com pointed out in first reporting
Eastwood’s move, the actor and Oscar-winning director is as much a
political libertarian as anything else.
But the news does indicate an important shift among conservatives on
this hot-button social issue, particularly among younger voters for
whom same-sex marriage is no big deal – a political demographic the
GOP badly needs to woo. Or as the Pew Research Center puts it,
“Millennials are almost twice as likely as the Silent Generation to
support same-sex marriage.”
And if nothing else, it may signal a tipping point in public attitudes
just as the US Supreme Court is about to decide two critical cases:
the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop. 8
banning gay marriage.
Polls indicate that the country is “evolving” on the issue at least as
rapidly as Obama last year said he was. In California, a new Field
Poll has California voters approving of same-sex marriage by a margin
of nearly two-to-one (61-32 percent).
“This represents a complete reversal in views about the issue from
1977, when The Field Poll conducted its first survey on this topic,
and is the highest level of support ever measured by the poll,” the
organization reported this week. “Approval of allowing marriage
between two people of the same gender includes majorities of men and
women, voters in all racial and ethnic groups, and Californians living
in each of the major regions of the state. The only subgroups where
majorities remain opposed are registered Republicans and voters who
classify themselves as conservative in politics.”
The Republicans who filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the DOMA case
before the Supreme Court examined their deeply-held convictions about
the basis for marriage. In the end, they concluded, “There is no
legitimate, fact-based reason for denying same-sex couples the same
recognition in law that is available to opposite-sex couples,” and
they found that “marriage is strengthened, not undermined, and its
benefits and importance to society as well as the support and
stability it gives to children and families promoted, not undercut, by
providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples.”
One of those who signed on to the brief was David Frum, former speech
writer for George W. Bush.
“As a conservative concerned with stabilizing families to rely less on
government aid, I have been convinced: I’ve been worrying about the
wrong thing,” he wrote this week on the Daily Beast. “Stopping
same-sex marriages does nothing to support families battered by
economic adversity. Instead, it excludes and punishes people who seek
only to live as conservatives would urge them to live. Treating
same-sex partnerships differently from husband-wife marriages only
serves to divide and antagonize those who ought to be working
Other elements of US society have weighed in similarly.
In their legal brief regarding DOMA, a group of some 200 businesses
and government entities said the federal law “puts us, as employers,
to unnecessary cost and administrative complexity” while also
“[forcing] us to treat one class of our lawfully married employees
differently than another, when our success depends upon the welfare
and morale of all employees.”
The group includes such corporate giants as Amazon, Apple, Cisco
Systems, eBay, Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Google, Levi Strauss,
Marriott International, McGraw-Hill, and Microsoft.
In a New York Times op-ed column last year, Institute for American
Values founder David Blankenhorn (who had supported Prop 8’s ban on
gay marriage) explained his change in view.
“As a marriage advocate, the time has come for me to accept gay
marriage and emphasize the good that it can do,” he wrote. “Instead of
fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing
together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who
want to do the same.”