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Why GOP reaction is muted as judge affirms gay marriage rights

GOP conservatives may not be itching for a culture war over a judge's decision overturning California's gay marriage ban. Economic issues, not cultural ones, are their focus heading into Election 2010.

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Judge Vaughn Walker in his chambers in July 2009. Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8, California's law banning gay marriage, is unconstitutional.

Paul Chinn/AP/File

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Just a few years ago, a court ruling that overturned a state's gay-marriage ban would have stirred stronger objections than those that arose from the political right this week after a federal judge invalidated California's voter-approved Proposition 8.

But beating that drum now may risk being seen as so 2004. Instead, Republican leaders today are focused intently on the economy ā€“ and on blaming Democratic policies for its still-sluggish state ā€“ as they try to rally independents, libertarians, and "tea party" adherents around conservative economic ideals in advance of midterm elections.

"Every indicator that I have ... generally speaking, is that economic growth and job creation are the tandem issues that will be the principal drivers of voter decision at polls,ā€ Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins told reporters Thursday. "What Iā€™m encouraging candidates to do is go out and run on an economic platform, a jobs platform."

That's not to say passions no longer run high on gay marriage. Atlanta on Saturday is host to dueling protests over the Proposition 8 ruling from California, as will be the case for other US communities in coming days. Indeed, the ruling in California, if validated on appeal, could affect some or all of the 45 states with similar gay-marriage bans on their books or embedded in their constitutions.

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