In a stunning reversal, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) said this week that he thinks his party needs to “accommodate and deal with reality” and get on board with legal equality for same-sex couples. Gingrich, who pushed the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) through Congress in 1996, has been one of the nation’s most consistent opponents of marriage equality.
The Huffington Post reports:
On gay marriage, meanwhile, Gingrich argued that Republicans could no longer close their eyes to the course of public opinion. While he continued to profess a belief that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, he suggested that the party (and he himself) could accept a distinction between a “marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state” — the latter being acceptable.
“I think that this will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with,” he said, noting that the debate’s dynamics had changed after state referenda began resulting in the legalization of same-sex marriage. “It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to … accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period.”
Despite Gingrich’s two divorces and history of infidelity, he has attempted to present himself as a defender of traditional marriage throughout his unsuccessful campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He signed the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge to support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions. He said the movement toward marriage equality was a “temporary aberration that will dissipate” and compared same-sex relationships to “pagan behaviors.”
What a difference an election makes.
After voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington all rejected Gingrich’s marriage inequality position, Gingrich now thinks marriage equality is “inevitable.”
Noting that his own openly-lesbian half-sister works for the Human Rights Campaign and that he has gay friends who have married legally in Iowa, Gingrich observed, “I didn’t think that was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act. It didn’t seem at the time to be anything like as big a wave of change as we are now seeing.”