Two prominent court cases have put gay marriage in the news lately, and The Washington Post reports that Tea Party groups are standing on the sidelines as a federal judge in Massachusetts has ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal preemption of gay marriage:

The silence is by design, activists with the loosely affiliated movement said, because it is held together by an exclusive focus on fiscal matters and its avoidance of divisive social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Privately, though, many said they back the decision because it emphasizes the legal philosophy of states' rights...

"I do think it's a state's right," said Phillip Dennis, Texas state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. The group does not take a position on social issues, he said, but personally, "I believe that if the people in Massachusetts want gay people to get married, then they should allow it, just as people in Utah do not support abortion. They should have the right to vote against that."

Everett Wilkinson, state director for the Florida Tea Party Patriots, agreed: "On the issue [of gay marriage] itself, we have no stance, but any time a state's rights or powers are encouraged over the federal government, it is a good thing."

Tea Party leaders have insisted that the movement stick to its fiscal-conservative principles; anything else, they believe--social issues in particular--have the potential to divide it. So even if you see some voicing agreement with liberals and libertarians on social issues like gay marriage, you won't see those issues become part of the movement's general platform.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.