Gay Marriage Opinion Shift: Conservative Lawmakers, Pundits Left Scrambling

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This being the Easter/Passover Spring break for Congress, youd think lawmakers back in their home districts would be eager to talk about the past weeks major news story the latest developments on same-sex marriage, which has seen one of the most pronounced and rapid shifts in public opinion and political action in recent US history.

But no, theyre trying to figure it out too, and so are most of their constituents. Meanwhile, one-by-one (or so it seems) political figures are coming out for gay marriage.

Most recently, thats US Rep. Justin Amash, (R) of Michigan, a conservative who used to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was argued before the US Supreme Court this past week.

Real threat to traditional marriage & religious liberty is government, not gay couples who love each other & want to spend lives together, Rep. Amash wrote in a Twitter exchange with The Huffington Post. I support repealing federal definition of marriage portion of DOMA. Always have.

Asked if gay couples should have the option to marry, Amash tweeted: Of course. How can anyone stop a couple from getting married in their own way? I just want government out. (Read the full exchange here.)

Thats essentially the position Sen. Rand Paul voiced recently, although the Kentucky Republican focused on the US tax code, which (as now enforced) prohibits the survivors in same-sex marriages allowed in nine states and the District of Columbia from receiving certain financial benefits when their spouses die.

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Its hard for many Republican lawmakers to make the leap Amash did for fear of being challenged from the right by a social conservative in a party primary.

But that hasnt kept other Republicans from speaking out.

Former Utah governor, US Ambassador, and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman took the issue head-on in a column in The American Conservative last month.

My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love, Mr. Huntsman wrote.

All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall. The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans. (Read his full column here.)

Huntsman was among more than 100 conservatives and Republicans who filed a friend of the court brief in the DOMA case before the Supreme Court, among them former governors, GOP administration senior officials, prominent right-leaning pundits, and actor Clint Eastwood.

In the US Senate all but nine Democrats now publicly support same- sex marriage. The wavering nine are Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Tom Carper of Delaware, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. …