In contrast to their elders, young Republicans overwhelmingly support legalizing gay marriage, according to polling data from the Pew Research Center
The generation gap is in sync with a national public opinion shift, according to Pew, which finds that 54 percent of Americans favor gay marriage.
Despite the seismic change — a 2004 ABC News-Washington Post poll showed just 32 percent
of registered voters supported same-sex marriage – Republican seniors are not budging on their stance.
Sixty-one percent of Republicans between ages 18-to-29 support gay marriage compared with just a fraction — 22 percent — of Republicans 65 and up.
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, a host of young conservatives told The New York Times
that if the GOP doesn't evolve its views on the issue, the party will implode.
"If the party wants to move forward and appeal to our generation they have to appeal to the majority to succeed," Anna Page, a 19-year-old Wellesley College freshman told The Times, emphasizing that supporting gay marriage "was now a matter of 'pure statistics' among millennials."
Another attendee, Alexander McCobin, a 27-year-old who leads Students for Liberty, characterized gay marriage as "the civil rights issue of the 21st century," while acknowledging it's also a generational issue.
"People can be socially conservative in their private activities without trying to impose their views on other people," McCobin said. Republicans "need to start embracing libertarian issues or it's going to start really hurting them in elections."
Perhaps most telling of the younger generation's stance was an Ohio State University student, who told the Times:
"Religiously, I don't agree with it, but at the same time I don't really care," Zach Pohl said.
Democrats in the same 18-to-29 demographic are more supportive of legal gay marriage than their GOP counterparts — 77 percent compared to 61 percent—while older Democrats are far more in favor than older Republicans, according to Pew.
In the 65 and older group, 62 percent of Democrats support it. With all age groups combined, 39 percent of Republicans favor same-sex marriage, compared with 69 percent of Democrats.
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