The Republican Party knows that it is stuck between Scylla and Charybdis at this point on the issue of same-sex marriage. While actually coming out and supporting same-sex marriage could be devastating for the Republican Party at this point, also being seen trying to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage into the Constitution could also be disastrous.
Part of the problem is, of course, the futility of the amendment itself. There is no way that the House can muster enough votes to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment let alone get the Senate and states to go along with it.
Shortly after the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Representative Tim Huelskamp introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment saying, at the time, “This would trump the Supreme Court. The debate is not over.”
According to the Huffington Post, they have been trying to get a response from someone- anyone- in the Republican Party regarding the amendment bill including Huelskamp’s office only to have the Republican leadership largely say “What bill? This isn’t the bill you are looking for.”
Should we be surprised? After the ruling, House Speaker John Boehner basically said “The court’s made its decision. I have no plans at this point in terms of how the House would move ahead on this.” Which is odd since last time, in 2006, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor voted for the amendment and were even among the most strident supporters of it.
One Democratic aide told the Huffington Post that “It’s no surprise that [the bill's cosponsors] can all talk to their rightwing constituents about this amendment effort and … then the leadership doesn’t utter a peep about it. This has been the GOP strategy for quite some time: Do your hating quietly.”
The reality is, though, that it goes well beyond that. The Republican leadership is stuck in a situation where they are well aware that their Party is on thin ice when it comes to social issues, but they are so beholden to a base that, when it comes right down to it, will eat them alive if they abandon the social issues.
The Republican Party began what has become known as The Southern Strategy back under the Presidency of Richard Nixon. They relied upon the lingering racial animus of Whites to try and wrest power from the Democrats. It worked to a certain extent, but as the years have gone by, it has become less and less effective. It was not just that they relied upon the lingering racial animus among Whites, but lingering sexism and homophobia within society. The Republicans relied upon hate, but in the end, hatred does not sustain a movement for very long.