John M. Becker

Marriage Opposition Plummeting in the GOP

Filed By John M. Becker | April 23, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: evangelicals, gay marriage, GOP, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Millennials, Republican Party, same-sex marriage, tipping point, wrong side of history

rainbow-flag-supreme-court.jpgIt hardly needs to be said that we're living in a time of massive shifts in public opinion in favor of LGBT rights, most notably marriage equality. This sea change is being led by Millennials -- the generation born between 1982 and 2000, an astonishing 81% of which supports marriage equality -- but it's happening across all demographic groups, including the group most stubbornly resistant to embracing equality: Republicans.

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe reports:

The change is being spurred far away from Washington by state party officials and local GOP operatives who believe that it no longer makes political sense to block attempts to expand marriage rights to gay men and lesbians.

Illinois Republicans last weekend ousted party officials who disagreed with a former state party chairman's support for same-sex marriage. Nevada Republicans just days ago removed language from the party platform regarding whether gay men and lesbians should marry. A new fundraising committee supporting pro-gay marriage GOP congressional candidates announced last week that it raised more than $2 million in the first quarter from wealthy Republican donors who support gay rights. Even Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken social conservative critic of gay rights, said in a recent BuzzFeed interview that "I think we need to concede that there's been a real shift of public opinion on marriage."

Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign calls the shift a "tectonic change in the Republican Party," and of course, he's right. The question is whether the national party leadership and elected officials will listen.

More, after the jump.

O'Keefe's article notes that none of the 2016 Republican presidential contenders support marriage equality, and the party's national platform remains staunchly anti-gay.

gay-men-cake-topper.jpgBut as I've written before, the generational shift in favor of LGBT rights means the longer the GOP resists moderating their Stone-Age views, the more long-term harm they're inflicting on their own brand.

A survey of young voters conducted last year by the College Republican National Committee found that of the respondents who said same-sex marriage should be legal, about half view the issue as a deal-breaker, meaning that they would vote against a candidate who opposed marriage equality even if they agreed with them on issues like taxes, spending, immigration, and defense. And as conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin points out, nearly two-thirds of Millennial evangelicals support marriage equality. Evangelicals are a core constituency for the GOP; if even young evangelicals are getting out in front of the party on this issue, that speaks volumes.

Or at least it should. As the nation moves rapidly and decisively in the direction of equality, jettisoning outdated social conservatism is the GOP's only real choice if it wishes to remain relevant. The other option is extinction.


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