This is a departure from Graham’s longstanding commitment to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Just four years ago, Graham affirmed his support for a federal amendment that would “define marriage between one man and one woman” as a way to “defend and promote traditional South Carolina values.”Yes, that was four years ago. Now, with all due respect to South Carolinians, there are damn few civil rights discussions in which positively invoking "traditional South Carolina values" is ever a good idea—there is, shall we say, a history there. You want to have a talk about "traditional South Carolina values" as they relate to food or landscaping or beachfront properties, fine, go nuts, but when it comes to anything involving civil rights and who should have them, wisdom suggests you might want to leave the phrase "traditional South Carolina values" on the front porch for the duration of that little fight. All right, mini-rant over.
Fast forward to Tuesday, and Graham explaining to CNN's Piers Morgan that well fine, instead of having a constitutional amendment banning the recognition of gay marriage no matter what individual states might think, which was Graham's previous position, maybe now it's all about states' rights after all and the onus is on people who think gay Americans ought to have the same rights as other Americans to pass a constitutional amendment saying that, if they really mean it. And yes, holy hell, he actually does couch it in the language of slavery:
Can — can I suggest this? Slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. Go watch “Lincoln,” a great movie. The people decided. The question for us is who should decide these things? Should it be a handful of judges or should it be the people themselves? And I come out on the side of the people themselves. Different people will look at it differently. But slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. If you want to propose a Constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage and it passes, that’s the law of the land.And with that, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham yada-yada-yadas the entire American Civil War, aka the War Between the States, aka the War of Nurthern Aggreshun, out of existence. The American people decided that black people maybe ought to not be held as property, blah blah blah, Constitution patched up a bit, problem solved. If you people who think two women ought to be able to hold the same rights as any other couple would just do that, then everything would be solved.
While some see this as Graham softening ever-so-slightly on the gay marriage issue—specifically, Graham now says it should be left to each state to decide, which apparently means he is no longer for his proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage everywhere because of "values"—I'm not seeing it. Instead, he's someone on the losing end of an issue who is now just moving the goalposts. Oh, states still definitely have the right to pass anti-LGBT laws, according to Graham. But if you want to grant those civil rights, instead of abridging them, well screw you—that's going to take an entire constitutional amendment to do that.
Given the thought that the Defense of Marriage Act and other anti-LGBT legislation is at this point increasingly on the losing end of the public opinion arguments, it's a neat trick. But to me doesn't sound like a "softening" on anything. All three of the people in this excruciating little interview sound like end-career anti-civil-rights guys who know they're losing the issue badly, and will continue to do so, and are just looking to buy a bit more time.