Don’t get me wrong — it’s great that several conservative Republicans are finally speaking up against the marriage discrimination amendment. As Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer reports, former Queen City mayor and Republican gubernatorial nominee Richard Vinroot joined the “nay” chorus yesterday. Good for him. The tide of public opinion is clearly turning against the damned thing and it may well still be defeated.
The only problem is this: Where in the heck were Vinroot, John Hood, the incomprehensible Thom “We’ll repeal it in ten or twenty years” Tillis and the others last year when the legislation was being rammed through the General Assembly? How did it come to pass that these pillars of corporate capitalism are only just now getting around to voicing their concern, i.e. after the cow is already out of the barn? They knew the deal then — why didn’t they speak up forcefully when they could have made a much bigger difference?
There are really only two possible answers:
#1 – The wimp factor. These guys knew what was happening, understood the difference they could make and simply didn’t have the guts. They didn’t want to pick a fight with the Art Pope and the theocrats with whom they make nice on so many other issues and so, just bit their tongues.
#2 – The cynical opportunist factor. Under this explanation, these guys knew all along that the amendment was wrong and a disgrace but bit their tongues not so much because they were afraid, but because they wanted the best of both worlds: they wanted the credit they’re now receiving for seeming semi-reasonable and they wanted the political advantage that they perceived would inure to the GOP with a mobilized base of social conservatives.
What is clearly not a credible explanation is the one they’re giving or implying: “Oh well, this isn’t something I (or my organization) care that much about or that was really on my radar screen.”
Sorry guys, prominent public opinion leaders who aspire to reshape our state wholesale can’t simply run and hide and start mumbling when their fellow citizens are about to take one of the defining votes of a generation.
At this point, however, all of that is water under the bridge. There are still six weeks till Election Day.
Let’s hope that, now that these fellows have begun to unearth their consciences, they actually do something to make up for having been silent collaborators in the process that delivered us to where we are now.