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NYTimes: Gay Marriage Divides Republicans

By    |   Monday, 27 April 2015 09:30 AM

As the field of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls intensifies, so does the wedge issue of gay marriage, setting the stage for the right’s most conservative members to outdo one another on the magnitude of their opposition.

This week the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right, putting the controversial subject front and center in the political debate.

Among the tea party and far-right faction of those who have declared their intention to run, as well as those presumed to announce soon, there is a consensus of opposition to gay marriage, The New York Times reports.

The gray area, according to the newspaper, is how big an issue each campaign intends to make it.

In Iowa over the weekend, a large contingent of the most conservative members of the 2016 Republican field made clear their allegiance to the belief that marriage is a one-man, one-woman union, Politico reported.

"The institution of marriage as between one man and one woman existed even before our laws existed," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told a gathering of some 1,000 evangelicals at the Faith & Freedom Summit, attended by nine likely presidential candidates, all of whom made clear their opposition to gay marriage.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal received two standing ovations for his remarks that "Corporate America is not going to bully the governor of Louisiana" and "Here’s my message to Hollywood: the United States of America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America."

Though historically a "winning primary issue" and a "powerful wedge issue wielded against Democrats," the Times reports that gay marriage has become a slippery slope for Republicans.

"While it could offer conservative candidates a way to break through a crowded primary field, it looms as a liability with general election voters, particularly independent ones, who are more supportive of same-sex marriage than more conservative Republicans," according to the Times.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who is gay, told the newspaper that 59 percent of Americans support marriage equality, including 52 percent of Republicans under age 50 and more than 60 percent of evangelicals under age 30.

"When people see couples who have married, they see love, they see more stability, they see more commitment and they see more compassionate care for people who are old and are sick and more stable homes where children are being raised," Mehlman said, pointing out that "opponents of same-sex marriage are dying a lot faster than supporters are because opponents are older."

Despite the data, powerful conservative groups are not backing down from their position, including the Family Research Council. As in 2012, the council will demand that Republican presidential candidates sign a pledge of support for a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution, according to the Times, which quoted the group’s president, Tony Perkins, as saying that "the court is not the final say on the issue."

But Gregory Angelo, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gay Republicans, said the Supreme Court would be "doing the Republican presidential field an incredible favor by giving them the potential gift of moving this as a hot-button cultural issue more than a year out from Election Day."

The culture war over gay marriage is not one Republicans win, Angelo said.

Angelo is joined by others in the "GOP elite" who also want to see the party move beyond gay marriage, according to Politico.

"They think it’s a losing issue for the party in the long-term and makes outreach to younger voters more difficult," according to the website. "But social conservatives are the most influential constituency in the caucuses, which kick off the nominating process."

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As the field of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls intensifies, so does the wedge issue of gay marriage, setting the stage for the right's most conservative members to outdo one another on the magnitude of their opposition.
gay marriage, issue, republicans, conservatives, GOP
Monday, 27 April 2015 09:30 AM
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