DENVER — It’s not a major “October Surprise” but Monday’s announcement from the Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage to become the law in Colorado and 29 other states moved the issue back to the fore of this year’s midterm election, now roughly a month away.
That’s not great news for Republicans, generally speaking, given that so few of them support full marriage equality in a nation where a majority of citizens, especially younger voters, now do.
Colorado’s GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, running as a senator who’d represent “the next generation”, issued a statement Tuesday that he isn’t budging from his position that marriage should only be between a man and a woman but also emphasizing his respect for the law and for all couples.
“My views on marriage have long been clear,” Gardner said to FOX31 Denver. “I believe we must treat each other with dignity and respect. This issue is in the hands of the courts and we must honor their legal decisions.
“While others might seek to divide Coloradans, I will not do that. Coloradans are tired of politicians who spend all their time on partisan hot-button issues that divide our state. We need leaders who are focused on bringing people together on the economic issues that we all agree on. Our nation is in real economic trouble and that’s what my campaign is all about.”
While Gardner is preemptively trying to criticize Udall for focusing on another social issue, there is a new political opportunity for the embattled Democrat to emphasize Gardner’s record on the issue, from his support for the now-overturned Defense of Marriage Act to his vote as a state lawmaker in 2007 against a proposal to allow gay and unmarried couples to adopt children.
On Tuesday, Udall left it to his press secretary Kristin Lynch to respond, which she did in personal terms.
“Mark Udall believes that everyone is entitled to equal opportunity and equal protection under the law, no matter who they love. That’s why he’s a strong supporter of marriage equality and celebrated yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court move,” said Lynch. “In contrast, Congressman Gardner doesn’t believe that my partner and I — along with thousands of other same-sex couples across the state — should enjoy the same rights and privileges as other couples.
“In light of these outdated and backward views, Gardner’s assertion that he represents a ‘new generation of Republican’ is utterly laughable. But his deception is no surprise, really, because he continues to hide his backward record on climate change, immigration and women’s reproductive health.”
Republicans point out that Udall only began supportive of same-sex marriage in 2011 and admitted in a 2012 Op-Ed for POLITICO that he “struggled with” the issue for a time.
“Genuine dialogue, not rhetorical bomb-throwing, leads to progress,” Udall wrote.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Brad Dayspring told FOX31 Tuesday that “that’s exactly the opposite of what [Udall’s] campaign is now engaging in.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released in late April showed that 61 percent of Coloradans support same-sex marriage, compared to just 33 percent who do not.
The pro-equality Human Rights Campaign also announced Tuesday that it would begin scoring members of Congress on whether or not they support full marriage equality with its first scorecard — with just eight Republicans supporting same-sex marriage — this week, according to POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman.
Gardner and Udall were not questioned on the subject of same-sex marriage during their second debate Monday morning, but it could come up Tuesday night when they meet again in a debate sponsored by the Denver Post.