Gay Marriage Ban, Revisited

I think Mark Schmitt has, not surprisingly, the right take on how badly the vote on the gay marriage ban went for conservatives:

There is no doubt that on gay marriage, the administration at least would rather have the issue than have the ban. That’s because they don’t actually give a shit what people do; it’s just an easy opportunity to stir up some hatred.

But there are different kinds of losing, and I don’t think the plan was to get only 48 votes in the Senate. This is hugely significant. The narrative that Frank describes [Thomas Frank, in this Friday NYT Op/Ed] depends on the idea that an elitist minority is blocking the obvious conviction of of most ordinary people that gay marriage is a threat to…something. 48 votes means that the obstacle to the amendment is not that it requires 66 votes in the Senate, and it’s not the annoying filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to end debate, it’s simply the fact that their majority leader can’t deliver the votes of his own Republicans. That’s not much of a basis for an electoral crusade. … It was a huge mistake. To get some benefit from the amendment, they would have to either, win a majority, or win the votes of a few Democrats from swing states in which they currently are running ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage … which would legitimate those initiatives and put the Senator in a tough position. But none of this came to pass, and in fact, the most respected Republicans such as McCain instead gave credibility to the idea that conservatives could oppose the amendment.