Dan Patrick should distance himself from marriage equality issue

Breanne Deppisch

Last Monday, lieutenant governor hopefuls Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte battled it out in their only scheduled debate before November’s election. The two Senators, who have sat together in the Senate for eight years, clashed over a number of issues in the hour-long debate, sparring over everything from education to border surges to the issue of marriage equality.

Patrick is something of a shoo-in to win the election, boasting a double-digit lead and the endorsement of many business associations throughout the state. He has a strong record of job creation and goals to cut property taxes, both of which ensure widespread popularity in the economic sector. And his views on border surges and abortion laws are somewhat uncontested — this is Texas, after all. He is a Republican representing an overwhelming majority of Republicans, and for the most part, he seems to be relatively in touch with voters.

The issue he would do well to distance himself from, however? Same-sex marriage.

Though the Republican Senator maintains a tellingly significant 15-point lead, much of his approval stems from his approach to business, not from a social issue that is largely beyond his reach. And by insisting on offering unsolicited opinions on an issue that many have declined to politicize, Patrick is damaging his reputation with an increasingly frustrated proportion of Texas voters — moderate Republicans.

“Texas has spoken,” Patrick declared, speaking to the ban on same-sex marriage that was later overturned by a federal judge. “The people of Texas believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

And Van de Putte, whose retorts often appeared scripted and awkward, was at her best during her petition for same-sex marriage. “People’s attitudes are changing,” she declared confidently. “What we voted on back then, I don’t think would be the same results now.”

Yes, Patrick is a staunchly conservative candidate, and he has every right to represent his electorate on any issue he pleases. But if nothing else, the movement to “turn Texas blue” gains traction not from large-scale party flip-flopping from unsure younger voters but from representatives that insist on speaking out against this issue of equality. It is neither the right-to-life policies nor the border surges that are turning the rising generation of Texas voters off. It is a party unwilling to stop speaking out when political endorsements are somewhat unsolicited. 

Deppisch is a government senior from League City. Follow her on Twitter @b_deppy