GOP Candidates Nearly Silent on New York's Gay Marriage Law

It's  been forty-eight hours since the New York State Senate passed a bill legalizing marriage for gay couples. Sunday morning, in the wake of proposals across every borough, the sun rose in the east and, by all accounts, civilization has not ended. With one exception, Republican candidates have refused so far to comment on such a flashpoint in the culture wars.

Michele Bachmann, somewhat surprisingly, took a state's rights view of the gay marriage law, observing that it was "up to the people of New York." In the same breath, however, she said that, if elected President, she would push for a constitutional amendment precluding gays from marrying. (Bachmann has a long paper trail of unpleasant views on gays.)

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have abstained from weighing in on New York's new legislation. Politico suggests they have little to gain by demagoguing the issue and, in fact, risk alienating well-heeled donors. For Tim Pawlenty in particular, the issue of gay marriage may be a hornet's nest: he has a long history of relatively progressive views on gay rights. It's entirely possible his competitors don't need much of an excuse to remind him, and his supporters, of that fact.

In any case, Romney and Pawlenty may not be able to wait much longer. Thanks to 33 state senators, including four Republicans, both men will eventually have to provide some clarity on the issue if they intend to harness the enthusiasm of their party members -- 71% of whom believe that a union of same-sex couple does not constitute a marriage.