the politics of the Democratic abstainers regarding DOMA

Staring at the trend-lines that Nate Silver has number crunched on states and support for “Same Sex Marriage”.  Then look over to different Democratic Senators and how they have responded to the current waves coming out of the looming Supreme Court ruling.  Jon Tester in Montana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri have come out in support — Tester just eked out a victory last term and can feel pretty confident the issue will not hit him in six years; McCaskill just pounded a “Tea Party” candidate and can feel sure that the issue’s double edged sword would hit a possible opponent more than her anyways and certainly not hamper her in six years.  It’s politically unfeasible for Mark Warner to stay away from coming to the “yah to gay marriage” position — moving in the currents of his native Virginia from where he would have staked his stances of his first election in 2001.

The Waves of Democrats coming out in favor of Same Sex Marriage right now is not a coincidence.  It is pretty clearly coordinated.  Yesterday, the Huffington Post ran at the top of their page a listing of the “Ten Democratic Senators” not on board Gay Marriage right now.  Today I see that one of them has slid to support — Kay Hagan in North Carolina — an interesting case… this is North Carolina and she’s up for re-election next year.  But I imagine it is better to “get this thing over with” and let it go into the election cycle as “old news”.  We have, in this list of politicians, a predominance of names who’d probably go ahead and slide to the position but wouldn’t want to make it “their issue” (and will slide into the weird “states decision” that seems to be where the swing vote of Kennedy on the Supreme Court is heading with this one).

So, what we’re left with are… nine.  1. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) backs civil unions but not gay marriage.  2. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continues to back DOMA, in addition to opposing same-sex marriage.   3. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) believes marriage is between a man and a woman.   4. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) supported allowing states to decide what to do about marriage but did not take a position beyond that.   5. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has mostly shied away from discussing gay marriage in public, offering only her support for people’s right to “love who they love.”   6. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) opposes DOMA and co-signed an amicus brief last much that urged the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of that law. But the senator has yet to endorse same-sex marriage as a legal right.  7. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) does not support same-sex marriage.  8. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) opposed same-sex marriage during the campaign.  9. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) does not support same-sex marriage.

And now the question:  does any of this posturing matter?  Leafing through the Senators, I gauge that Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas would be the most likely to take a stand against it and try to stamp themselves against their party — this is the Appalachia Corridor or the “Red Streak” of rapidly dwindling Democratic support… too, I suppose, Joe Donnelly of Indiana who might just possibly be ideologically opposed “in his heart”.  Carper of Delaware may well throw his support any minute now; Johnson is retiring anyways.

What you’re left with is the sort of shrugging question.  We count the politicians.  Even though I don’t know if we should care about the politicians.  For instance, I note Elizabeth Warren on the issue of marijuana legalization — you go ahead and shrug that one off if you’re a garden variety “progressive” / “liberal” because she is not going to be the spoke standing in the way of marijuana legalization where she is a catalyst for banking reform.

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