If the U.S. Supreme Court wraps up this year’s session by declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right — a scenario far more probable than not, most knowledgeable observers predict — tourism officials in New Orleans will be ready.
According to a recent Gambit story, the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation is already putting together a website and ad campaign pitching the traditionally gay-friendly city as a perfect spot for destination weddings and honeymoons. The prospect of hosting same-sex couples is lucrative, and NOTMC CEO Mark Romig said that “we think it’s the right thing to do, as well.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal is preparing himself for a likely summer ruling too, he said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” But unlike the city, he’s got no plans to roll out the welcome wagon.
Instead, like one of those Japanese soldiers who kept fighting after World War II was over, Jindal vowed to press on with his opposition, even endorsing U.S. Sen. and possible presidential rival Ted Cruz’s idea of a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to bar same-sex marriages and refuse to recognize those legally performed in other states.
That Louisiana is one of only 14 states that still has such a ban in place is just one reason to believe this fight’s all but finished.
Judge after judge after judge, both Democratic and Republican appointees to the federal bench, has ruled that bans such as Louisiana’s violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all; only Louisiana’s Martin Feldman, a district judge from Puerto Rico and one of the five appeals court panels that have issued opinions have dissented. Rulings in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage have come from some of the most conservative states in the land, including Utah, Texas, Mississippi and most recently Alabama, and Louisiana’s lawyers faced skeptical questioning during a recent appeals court hearing over the state’s ban.
Those rulings reflect a remarkable but clear shift in public opinion. Majorities nationwide now support the right to marry, although that’s not the case in Louisiana. Some GOP leaders have warned politicians who continue to embrace outdated prejudices that they risk losing a generation of voters.
And many politicians are shifting their stances to fit the new reality. That’s true of a number of major Republicans, including presidential hopefuls such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, who don’t endorse the practice but who have made it clear they won’t try to buck the trend. It’s also true of cautious Democrats.
Count New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in that number. Ever mindful of how his politics play beyond the progressive city’s borders, Landrieu wasn’t in the first wave of big-city mayors to champion same-sex marriage. But he quietly signed on last year, described his support as an expression of long-standing opposition to discrimination and cast it as no big deal. Landrieu clearly calculates that for most people, it’s not.
Why Jindal continues to insist otherwise is no secret, although his reasoning is troubling. In an effort to carve out a niche in the crowded GOP field, Jindal’s doubling down on issues tailored to appeal to his party’s far-right wing, from insisting on the existence of Muslim no-go zones despite widespread debunking, to criticizing Americans who insist on using hyphens to describe their ethnic heritage, to trying to step in front of this barreling train.
Jindal’s professed justification also is disturbing. On ABC, he chalked up his fierce opposition to his Christian faith. That’s fine for him, but what makes him think his religious beliefs on the subject — which are certainly not shared by many other Christians and non-Christians — should dictate other people’s constitutional rights?
Never mind that Jindal’s proposal is merely a talking point, not a realistic plan. Constitutional amendments are nearly impossible to pass even when the goal in question has popular support. For a minority and ever-shrinking position? Forget about it.
What is more than likely is that the high court will make history just a few months from now. If that happens, there will be joy in the streets of New Orleans, and probably at least some other corners of Louisiana. Our country will be a more tolerant, respectful and equal place, one that has come a step closer to living up to its foundational ideals. Families will be strengthened, not weakened.
Jindal may still scowl from the sidelines, but he won’t be able to do a thing about it.
And that’s exactly as it should be.