Just a little over two years ago, during Governor David Paterson's unsuccessful push for marriage equality, Rudy Giuliani was practically licking his chops at the prospect of using the issue as a political weapon. On April 20, 2009, the Post reported that Giuliani was "vowing to use his strong opposition [to gay marriage] against the Democrats if he runs for governor next year."
"This will create a grass-roots movement. This is the kind of issue that, in many ways, is somewhat beyond politics," said Giuliani, a two-term mayor who unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination last year.
"I think gay marriage will obviously be an issue for any Republican next year because Republicans are either in favor of the position I'm in favor of, civil unions, or in many cases Republicans don't even favor civil unions," he continued.
My, how times have changed. In an interview with CNN yesterday, Giuliani advised the GOP to drop the issue entirely and stay out of people's bedrooms.
CROWLEY: You have always said that you were for civil unions, but that you thought marriage was between a man and a woman ...
GIULIANI: I do, and I still believe that. I think that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I think that the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people's bedrooms and let these things get decided by states. And the reality is that this is something that New York decided by a democratic vote. I think it's wrong, but there are other things that I think are wrong that get decided by democratic vote.
CROWLEY: You can live with it, it's fine? You don't see any harm that's going to come to New York —
GIULIANI: I don't see harm, although I think it would be better for stability of families and everything else if we kept marriage between a man and a woman. I see more harm however by dwelling so much on the subject of gays and lesbians and whether it's right or wrong in politics. I think we got far — not necessarily more important things — but far more relevant things to talk about what government should be talking about — how to deal with the budget, how to deal with Afghanistan, the things you and I have been talking about. That's what we should be talking about. The rest of it — if you are a libertarian Republican or you have a streak of libertarian Republican, I don't know what the heck the Republican Party wants to getting involved in people's sexual lives and personal lives so much. Stay out of it, and I think we would be a much more successful political party if we stuck to our economic conservative roots and the idea of a strong assertive America that is not embarrassed to be the leader of the world.
Giuliani's remarks demonstrate how quickly gay marriage has turned against the GOP. Giuliani has shifted his position on using gay marriage as a social wedge issue because the effectiveness of such a strategy has diminished greatly over the past two years as acceptance of gay marriage has spread.
But Giuliani also goes beyond mere political calculations here. He says he doesn't see the harm in gay marriage and thinks the government should stay out of people's bedrooms. That's not the kind of thing you say when you're worried about appealing to conservative primary voters (anywhere outside of New Hampshire, at least), and, indeed, the chances are still slim that Giuliani decides to run for president. Which just has to make you wonder: Why won't he return Howard Koeppel's phone calls?
Giuliani to GOP: Stay out of gay marriage [Political Ticker/CNN]