Governor’s flip-flop


Gov. John Kasich stumbled into candor last week on the topic of equal rights. Then he had to recant.

Asked about Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s recent support of same-sex marriage — a reversal of his previous position — Mr, Kasich expressed sympathy and seemed to endorse the lesser legal arrangement of civil unions.

“I talked to Rob and encouraged him,” the governor said in an interview. “If people want to have civil unions and have some way to transfer their resources, I’m for that. I don’t support gay marriage.”

But within hours, a spokesman for the governor issued an official “whoops.”

“The governor’s position is unchanged,” the spokesman said. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s constitution to allow for civil unions.”

A voter-approved 2004 amendment to the Ohio Constitution bans civil unions and same-sex marriage equally. The law says that only the union of a man and woman is recognized in this state.

That law seems unlikely to last indefinitely; either the courts will strike it down or the people will repeal it. Meanwhile, the governor has made himself look either insincere or bumbling.

But if Mr. Kasich really feels the way he indicated in the interview, why not endorse the equal right of gay people to marry? Polls show most Americans favor this stance, for the same reason Mr. Portman does: family and friends.

Having flipped to civil unions, then flopped back to “no” to same-sex marriage or unions, Mr. Kasich could flip one more time and help his own image and that of his party. He’d be on the right side of the issue and the right side of its politics — a side that more Republicans, such as Senator Portman, are joining.