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The Morning Plum: Wake up, Republicans — gay marriage is on the march

The President who signed the Defense of Marriage Act has now evolved. In a Post op ed today, Bill Clinton now says the time has come for it to be overturned, arguing that it’s unconstitutional and contrary to the nation’s founding values. Crucially, Clinton makes the case that the culture has changed — an argument that could weigh on the Supreme Court justices set to hear the challenge to DOMA this spring.

Gay marriage is on the march. When it comes to full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And yet, as my colleague Jennifer Rubin has been documenting, the GOP — which continues to spend taxpayer money defending DOMA in court — is largely refusing to evolve along with the culture on the issue. As Rubin notes, this means the GOP may continue alienating voter groups it must appeal to amid the country’s changing demographics.

A new Quinnipiac poll out today drives this home with striking clarity: It finds that gay marriage has far greater support among constituencies that are growing as a share of the vote than it does with the public overall.

The poll finds that a plurality of Americans supports same sex marriage, 47-43. But dig into the internals and you find that the groups that increasingly make up the main pillars of the Democratic coalition support it in much larger numbers. Hispanics: 63-32. Young voters: 62-30. College educated whites: 59-32. White women: 50-40.

Interestingly, non-college whites are one of the few remaining constituencies that opposes gay marriage, 48-42. And Republicans oppose it overwhelmingly, 69-23.

All of this tells a larger story. As Ron Brownstein has detailed, the Democratic Party is increasingly shaping its agenda and issue stances around the priorities and values of the “coalition of the ascendant” — Latinos, young voters, and socially liberal college educated whites, especially women — and is no longer tailoring its positions to avoid alienating culturally conservative downscale whites. Given the realities of demographic change, the GOP — which is overly reliant on non-college whites — can’t afford to further alienate those growing Dem-leaning constituencies.

As the above polling shows, gay marriage is one of these issues where those key voter groups see where the future is heading — yet Republican voters remain overwhelmingly opposed to embracing that future. As such, marriage equality perfectly captures the broader dilemma facing the GOP — whether the party’s values will evolve to keep pace with the changing face of the country. And the coming Supreme Court cases — one involving DOMA, the other involving Proposition 8 — will bring a burst of national attention to the issue, one that will shed still more light on the failure of the GOP to evolve, already.

 * A solid jobs report: It’s just in: “Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent.”

Good, but of course, jobs reports can be wrong — January was revised downward from 157,000 to 119,000, and December was revised upward from 196,000 to 219,000. And at a time of mass unemployment, we’re still talking about how much austerity to impose, not whether to impose it.

* Gun proposal moves forward: The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the anti-trafficking measure that would make it a felony to knowingly sell a gun to someone who cannot pass a background check, and it appears that this measure, at least is likely to pass the full Senate with bipartisan support. This bill, while important, is politically the easiest of the three main pillars of Obama’s gun control agenda.

The question now is whether the Committee will pass a background check expansion that has a chance at winning over a few Republican Senators. If so — and if they can pass the House — the two paired together would amount to the most serious gun control achievement in many years.

* New pressure on White House over drones: The Hill speculates that the Rand Paul filibuster has created a kind of turning point in which the political need for the White House to be more transparent about its legal rationale for drone strikes is now unavoidable. It has been speculated that the White House is close to producing such a rationale, one that is intended also as guidance for future administrations. The need for more transparency and real oversight remains.

* Release the drone rationale, Mr. President: The Post editorial board spells out the reasons why it’s time for the administration to allow for a genuine public accounting and real Congressional oversight of Obama’s drone warfare program:

[Attorney General Eric] Holder acknowledged to a Senate committee before Mr. Paul spoke that “there is a greater need for transparency” about the drone war and that he expects Mr. Obama to speak about it. A presidential speech would certainly be welcome. But only disclosure and congressional authorization will solve this problem.

 * Marco Rubio presses for repeal of Obamacare: This just in, from Rubio’s office:


In so doing, Rubio joins Senator Ted Cruz, who has said he’ll object to any bill that continues to fund the government unless it cuts off funds from Obamacare. One imagines that continuing to feed the Obamacare repeal fantasy is a requirement for anyone who wants to be competitive in the next GOP presidential primary.

* Obama aiming for “grand bargain” this summer? Sources claim that Obama privately told GOP Senators that he thinks a big deal on the deficit has to happen by the end of July. As noted here yesterday, the GOP’s only two alternatives here are a deal involving new revenues and entitlement cuts, or continued sequestration. There’s no other way out.

* Misguided economic thinking dominates the debate: Paul Krugman’s column today offers a sweeping indictment of all of those who got it completely wrong when they insisted, as they have throughout the Obama presidency, that reforming Wall Street and spending to create jobs and fortify the safety net would adversely impact the “markets.” Despite their wrongness, Krugman notes, these ideas continue to hold a disproportionate sway over the political discourse — another reason we’re stuck in the wrong conversation.

* And House Republicans struggle with Violence Against Women Act: Jennifer Bendery has the rundown on House Republicans who  voted against reauthorizing VAWA, but are now putting out misleading statements implying they voted for it. Steve Benen first reported on this yesterday, noting that local papers are catching out their members of Congress in a bit of fibbing:

Reps. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) all did the exact same thing.

What else?