In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality,” Donnelly wrote. “With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”
Donnelly was pressured in some quarters about his position in last year's Senate race based on claims that his only son was gay. The media never asked Donnelly to address that issue, and he's never spoken about it publicly. The Indiana Stonewall Democrats, nonetheless, were pleased that Donnelly has now taken their side on an issue that the Supreme Court is now taking up in two separate cases addressing the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act and California's constitutional amendment that was approved by voters which prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) recently switched his position in favor of gay marriage, attributing his change in position to his son coming out to him.
UPDATE: The Star's Tim Swarens, who admits voting for Donnelly, thinks it was wrong for him to mislead voters in last year's election. Here's a bit of his quick take on Donnelly's flip flop on gay marriage:
How convenient for Sen. Donnelly, who won’t be on a ballot again for more than five years.
How unfortunate for Indiana voters, who deserved to know his true position on same-sex marriage before he was promoted to the U.S. Senate . . .
Are we to believe that Donnelly suddenly had an epiphany on gay marriage? Are we to accept blindly that a politician who proudly touted his social conservatism for years has now reversed course so soon after a contentious election?
A lot of Americans have a well-founded cynicism about politics and politicians, and Donnelly’s brand of say one thing on the campaign trail and do another once elected only feeds into that cynicism . . .My guess is that Donnelly was under a lot of pressure from gay rights supporters, who were threatening to make his son an issue if he didn't switch his view, and he wanted to spare his family from a public airing of matters he would rather keep within his family. On many other issues, I think Donnelly is a complete phony. He ran as a moderate conservative on many economic issues, but in reality he is a committed tax-and-spend liberal. His views on social issues are driven by his Catholicism and his desire to avoid conflict with his own church on hot-button issues, even if that means upsetting traditional liberals within his own party.
Star political columnist Matt Tully embraces Donnelly's switch on the issue without delving more deeply like a good political reporter would. "It was clear that Donnelly’s position was going to change; formally changing it now just makes sense," Tully writes. "It also eliminates a nagging political headache." The only political headache the issue caused for Donnelly was the discomfort involving his position given the circumstances within his family. Tully and all of his colleagues are very familiar with that elephant in the room; they just choose to ignore it because they personally like Donnelly in contrast with Richard Mourdock, who Tully and his colleagues at the Star thoroughly despised and did everything they could in their reporting and editorializing to make sure Mourdock lost to the point of lying about and twisting his record at every turn. There was nothing about Mourdock's life they would have shied away from reporting, but when it's someone they like, such as Donnelly or former Sen. Richard Lugar, professional courtesy dictates not discussing matters that are deemed too uncomfortable to discuss.
GOP consultant Jennifer Hallowell adds this comment, which is pretty much spot on:
"He campaigned as a social conservative Democrat, essentially tried to get Hoosier voters to believe that he was a Republican with just a 'D' by his name," she said. "And we've seen him turn his back on Second Amendment rights. And now this. And my guess is, he'll probably switch his position on the life issue before summer."