37 States, a Federal Marriage Amendment, and a Lot of Money

In the frenzy after yesterday’s gay rights SCOTUS victories, I filed this story about the chin-up attitude of social conservatives. Did they lose? Yes, only as much as they expected to, no more. The court decided that each state will have to litigate marriage in its own way, and it didn’t establish a new definition of the institution. That gave conservatives their marching orders.

Maybe Wednesday’s decisions put some gas back in Democrats’ engines. But Washington looks like legislative stalemate. Conservatives can stop Democrats from passing the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the husk of DOMA that the court let live. But the Federal Marriage Amendment they long for would need supermajority votes in both the House and Senate, and they couldn’t even get that during the Bush era.

“I’ve already requested the language,” said Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp. “We’ll hopefully gather co-sponsors, and hopefully this week we’ll see if [passing it] is possible. This is a winning issue. All you have to do is look at what happened to California in 2008. John McCain got creamed, and at the same time, the folks that wouldn’t vote for a Republican—particularly minority communities—came out to support traditional marriage. It’s probably the most attractive feature of the Republican Party, our support for traditional marriage and other issues.”

Will Saletan claims that the ground has shifted beneath these conservatives’ feet, and the battle is over, but what does that guy know?