Protesters against same-sex marriage in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in March. Utah’s recent rulings allowing for same-sex marriage dealt a blow to social conservatives. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Aaron Blake
Reporter December 27, 2013

If there’s one state that would seem most unlikely to legalize same-sex marriage, it may very well be Utah. It was the reddest state in the 2012 election, giving Mitt Romney 73 percent of the vote.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix. View Archive

But on Monday — when a federal appeals court ruled that same-sex marriage can proceed in Utah after another judge the previous week struck down the state’s ban on such unions — it became clear that social conservatives are losing their fight in the reddest state to legalize gay marriage.

The decision came on the same day a federal judge in Ohio ruled that same-sex marriages performed outside the state would be recognized — and shortly after New Mexico’s Supreme Court legalized such unions there.

For those keeping score, that’s three states with huge legal rulings in favor of gay marriage in just a few days — not to mention the fact that Hawaii and Illinoislegalized the unions last month.

What was even more striking than the decisions was the lack of a retort from socially conservative groups.

In the hours after the New Mexico ruling, such groups were much more focused on the controversy over “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality. They startedpetitions to end Robertson’s suspension but had almost nothing to say about the increasingly fast march toward nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. By the end of the week, the Duck Dynasty star was reinstated. It was a high-profile and not insignificant public relations victory for social conservative groups, but it punctuated what was otherwise a disastrous week on the gay marriage front. If this past week showed us anything, it’s that social conservatives have faced such an onslaught of bad news on the marriage front that they don’t really spend much time fighting back in the court of public opinion.

Social conservatives, for losing almost every battle over same-sex marriage and then losing the will to even fight back, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

aaron.blake@washpost.com

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