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Scott Walker Wins Conservative Cred With His ‘Antigay Transition’

Scott Walker Wins Conservative Cred With His ‘Antigay Transition’


The Wisconsin governor is calling for a constitutional amendment to let states ban same-sex marriage, saving his reputation with the far right.

Those who watch the ups and downs of Republican presidential candidates -- and wannabes -- say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker "has his groove back with social conservatives," thanks to his stand against last week's Supreme Court decision for marriage equality.

Within hours of the announcement of Friday's ruling, Walker formally issued a statement calling for a constitutional amendment to let states define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. His position is arguably more moderate than those of archconservative presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal, who back a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage nationwide.

Still, social conservatives loved Walker's announcement, and as The Daily Beastreported, he needs all the love he can get from that base of his. The website even coined the phrase "antigay transition" to describe how his view has evolved.

Although he has not (yet?) announced he is a presidential candidate, Walker has spent much of the past two years keeping quiet about his thoughts on marriage equality.

As recently as April, Walker conceded he'd attended a same-sex wedding reception for his wife's cousin, something conservative Rick Santorum said would contradict his Christian faith.

Then, June 7, in an interview with ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, Walker cut to the chase.

"I personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman," said the Republican governor. And then he hinted at the bomb that he finally dropped Friday.

"If the court decides that, the only next approach is for those who are supporters of marriage being defined as between one man and one woman is ultimately to consider pursuing a constitutional amendment."

As The Advocatehas reported, despite the fact that Walker has still not declared his candidacy, LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement notes that the Wisconsin governor is "leading several of the GOP 2016 presidential polls currently."

Back in May, the Wisconsin governor met with conservative leaders in Washington, D.C. Penny Nance -- the president of the influential right-wing group Concerned Women for America -- told The Daily Beast following that meeting she still wasn't convinced Walker was sufficiently staunch in his opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I think people are still trying to discern" his position, Nance said in an email to the website.

His comments about the issue over the years have left some on the right scratching their heads.

In 2014, after a federal judge declared that the Badger State's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Walker gave a noncommittal answer on the topic at a press conference.

"It doesn't really matter what I think," Walker told reporters, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's in the [U.S.] Constitution."

In a 2013 interview with Bloomberg, Walker expressed measured support for federal legislation protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination. Walker noted that Wisconsin didn't then let same-sex couples marry, but still afforded gay (although not transgender) residents those employment protections.

"There's a healthy balance there," he said.

But as TheDaily Beast noted, opponents of same-sex marriage are not interested in finding "a healthy balance," and they weren't thrilled with Walker's comments.

But they are more pleased now that Walker has called for a constitutional amendment in the wake of the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling.

When TheDaily Beast went back to Nance to see if Walker's statement had given her more confidence that he would support her group's position on marriage she emailed, "Boy has it!"

"In calling for a federal marriage amendment that would allow states to determine their own laws on marriage Walker has put to final rest any questions social conservatives had on his willingness to lead on the matter," she wrote.

"Just as Roe made the issue of life central to support for a presidential candidate, the Obergefell decision has hardened our resolve on marriage," she continued. "The courts have made them issues that candidates for federal office can no longer duck."

Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, is on board too. He said he was "distraught" over Walker's muted reaction to the striking down of Wisconsin's anti-marriage equality law.

"I thought it was a huge mistake," Brown said. "But ever since then, he has been working very hard to be a leader on the marriage issue."

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Iowa-based conservative group Family Leader, also praised Walker's endorsement of an amendment.

"I was thrilled to be able to see his response to this opinion," he told the Beast.

Walker aides, though, told the Beast the governor's position on the issue hasn't really changed; in 1997, as a state legislator, he voted to ban same-sex marriage in Wisconsin.

But not every Republican is in his tent. Mary Cheney, a gay political consultant and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was not thrilled with Walker's move. "From a political perspective, I don't understand why you would do that," she told the site.

And his position could cost him the support of some New York City Republican donors, who tend to be fiscally but not socially conservative, The Washington Post has noted.

Meanwhile, Democrats, not unexpectedly, are denouncing him. "Well, Scott Walker, if you believe the next president's job is to encourage bigotry and to treat some families better than others, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren't president," U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said at a fundraiser for Connecticut's Democratic Party Monday night, CNN reports.

A Walker aide responded that the Democrats are attacking Walker because his "record of success" in Wisconsin has them worried.

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