GOP Support for Gay Marriage Coming From Outside Washington

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 03:03 PM

By Courtney Coren

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In an effort to expand the appeal of the Republican Party to a changing demographic, more party leaders and groups across the country are moving to drop opposition to gay marriage as a party position, The Washington Post reported.

The Republican Party leader in Illinois resigned in May 2013 after coming under fire for making statements in support of same-sex marriage. Last weekend, Illinois Republicans ousted the party officials who were responsible for pushing Pat Brady out.

Last week, the Nevada GOP voted to drop opposition to gay marriage from its party platform.

The American Unity PAC, a conservative fundraising group that supports Republican candidates who favor gay marriage, announced that they raised $2.75 million in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Post.

Even Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, one of the most vocal social conservatives, told BuzzFeed earlier in April that it may be time for the GOP "to concede that there's been a real shift of public opinion on marriage."

BuzzFeed said that when Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and former Gov. Mike Huckabee were speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, sponsored by Citizens United and Americans For Prosperity, that social issues were absent from their speeches.

"A tectonic shift is taking place in the Republican Party on marriage equality," Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, told the Post.

"For the Republican hierarchy, it's a very straightforward question," he added. "How can they attract the next generation of voters and not support an issue young people have made their minds up on?"

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released in March found that 59 percent of Americans now say they support gay marriage, a reversal from 2004.

But there is a demographic divide in the GOP, with 61 percent of Republicans in the 18-to-29 age group saying they support gay marriage, while only 22 percent of Republicans 65 years and older are in support, according to March poll from the Pew Research Center.

While the Republican National Committee still defines marriage as between one man and one woman in its platform, a report issued by the party in January 2013 recognized this "generational difference."

"For many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be," the report concluded, adding that the GOP must become more "inclusive and welcoming" if it wanted "to attract young people and others."

Tyler Deaton is leading the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, which has launched the "reform-the-platform" campaign, which has the goal of getting state and national party officials to drop opposition to gay marriage from party platforms.

"I think we're going to be successful, I think that this is the right time, that if the party wants to grow, then for the party to reach new voters, this is a necessary change," Deaton told the Post.

"I think we'll have a new platform in 2016 that is much more inclusive to gay people," he concluded.

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