How This Week’s Marriage Ruling Helps Tom Corbett

Yes, really.

Tom Corbett

Over at Philly.com, John Baer all but double-dares Daryl Metcalfe to impeach Gov. Tom Corbett over Corbett’s decision not to appeal this week’s court ruling opening marriage to gays and lesbians in Pennsylvania. In fact, the whole process couldn’t have gone any better for Corbett.

Here’s the facts:

• The majority of Pennsylvania voters had signaled already that they were ready for gay marriage.

• Corbett defended the state’s ban on gay marriage when Kathleen Kane opted out, but he gave every sign of not wanting it to be an issue in this fall’s election. The biggest sign? When he suddenly came out for a bill that would ban discrimination against gays in Pennsylvania. He said he’d never realized gays were unprotected by antidiscrimination laws, which was kind of unbelievable, but allowed him to position himself as a “don’t hate gays” Republican to the extent possible that it wouldn’t alienate what conservative base he has left.

• The ruling came down on primary day. Too late for real intra-party opposition to Corbett to emerge if he chose not to appeal the ruling.

• Which he didn’t.

Yeah, Metcalfe will gripe and complain. Maybe a few anti-marriage die-hards Republicans will stay home during next November’s election day. But gay marriage is, suddenly, not an issue in this fall’s election. Which means Tom Corbett is not going to end up on the wrong side of the issue. Which means it will be slightly harder for Tom Wolf to paint him as an extremist.

That’s a combination of luck and savvy. Don’t count Corbett out in the fall quite yet.