Supreme Court could make gay marriage an election litmus test for the GOP

There is little time left for the Supreme Court to decide which cases it will hear this session. If they decide to weigh in on same-sex marriage, it could influence the 2016 presidential elections. If the case is selected, the ruling will be announced in June 2015- right as the Republican primaries are starting to heat up.

Same-sex marriage is one of the most controversial social issues of the day. Yet few politicians are willing to tackle it head on- least of all prospective presidential candidates for the Republican Party. Opposing gay marriage has long been a firmly planted plank of the Republican platform. However, it may no longer be to their advantage to advertise that.

Support for same-sex marriage has grown steadily over the past decade. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now believe gays and lesbians have the right to get married. 36 states have legalized same-sex marriage. Already described as being out of touch, few Republicans are keen to openly advocate banning same-sex marriages. Yet not to do so risks alienating their core constituencies.

“They’re not quite ready to endorse gay marriage, but they really don’t want to crusade against it like they used to,” said Vin Weber, a former congressman from Minnesota and an adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “They’re looking for ways to describe their position that don’t put them directly at odds with supporters of same-sex marriage.” Indeed, many Republicans are hoping the Court settles the issue so that it can no longer be a topic of debate.

The 2016 Republican primary promises to be the ultimate test as to what the beleaguered party represents. The field is wide-open and the candidates range from across the ideological spectrum.

Some, like Ted Cruz, have already announced they will oppose a Supreme Court decision on the matter. “The Constitution makes clear marriage is a question for the states,” he said earlier this week at the Republican National Convention. “It’s not a question for a bunch of unelected federal judges who may disagree with the democratic views of the people who live in the United States of America.”

Others, like Jeb Bush, have taken a more conciliatory tone: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” he said in a statement as the Florida judiciary overturned a law banning same-sex unions.

The Supreme Court will decide soon if it will take on the controversial issue.

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