Pennsylvania Just Legalized Same Sex Marriage And Rick Santorum Has Nothing To Say

On Tuesday afternoon, a conservative federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban, ruling that prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, concluded. A day later, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) — who is facing a tough re-election bid — announced he would not appeal the ruling, allowing Pennsylvania to become the 19th state, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples can marry.

Any comment would prove undoubtedly awkward, since Judge Jones was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2002, at the urging of Santorum, who described him as “highly qualified to assume the important role of Judge and the duty of protecting the Constitution and ensuring the effective operation of our judicial system.” Still, politicians rarely allow consistency to get in the way of political expediency and Santorum had plenty of opportunities to express disappointment with his nominee.

But some Republican strategists suggest that Santorum’s choice to remain silent is indicative of the GOP’s decision to de-emphasize its rhetorical opposition to gay rights in an effort to attract younger and more moderate voters.

“The push for same-sex marriage nationally is moving much faster than many in the Republican Party, including Rick Santorum, ever thought it would,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told ThinkProgress. “And now the GOP is trying to internally rectify the changing landscape because their position hurts them primarily with voters under 40; those same voters they need in the tent if they want to win the White House in 2016.”

“Those running for President on the right side of the aisle recognize that until the Party is able to fully square itself with the changing times, it is best suited to at the minimum show respect for gay rights,” O’Connell said. By remaining silent, Santorum may be trying to do just that.

Read more from Igor Volsky at Think Progress

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Analysis & Political Strategy