Governor Brian Sandoval and his fellow Republicans, lieutenant governor candidates Mark Hutchison and Sue Lowden, have agreed: The State of Nevada shouldn’t fight to preserve its ban on gay marriage. Good for them, and for all of us, but the ironies are piling up. Nevadans have long claimed a right-wing libertarian tradition that promotes gambling (once illegal everywhere else) and prostitution (illegal everywhere in the U.S. except a dozen rural Nevada counties); in recent, tea-scented years, the most vocal celebration of this tradition has come from the right.
But when the anti-gay-marriage ballot question passed in 2000 and 2002, where was this Republican live-and-let-live attitude? In fact, the party welcomed the measure as a means of ramping up voter turnout through bigotry. Democrats shouldn’t escape unscathed, either: A little more than a decade ago, they feared taking a position would hurt them politically—and proceeded to lose most of the major statewide races when this question was on the ballot, proving anew that trying to out-Republican the Republicans doesn’t work. Maybe this time, Sandoval and company are trying to out-Democrat the Democrats.