The GOP's Inner Debate on Gay Marriage

Connor Simpson, The Atlantic Wire
National Journal

A GOP pollster sent out a memo arguing that the Republican Party should change its stance on gay marriage at the same time that two of the party's more high-profile members made sure to position themselves against it after the president's big week. 

An e-mail from Jan van Lohuizen, a GOP pollster who worked on George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, made the rounds on the blogs for arguing that Republicans have to change their stance on gay marriage. Lohuizen uses recent polling data to make his case that, while Democratic support for gay marriage is higher than for Republicans, younger members of the party are becoming more tolerant. Support for gay marriage "has grown at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down." Obviously this argument is a response to President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage earlier this week. Lohuizen even offered a sample quote for a Republican Party member to use when coming out in support of gay marriage. 

Atlantic Wire
Atlantic Wire

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Some of the top Republican officials who probably received the e-mail have already made comments to align themselves with the more traditional, predictably GOP stance against gay marriage. Mitt Romney clarified where he stands during his Liberty University commencement speech on Saturday (the same speech he used to clarify his opinion on Chik-Fil-A). He didn't focus on the issue during his speech, but he made sure to get his message across loud and clear for the crowd when he said, "Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman." Liberty University is a Christian university, and the speech was Romney's big coming-out party for the evangelical Christian crowd of the Republican Party. Traditional thinking puts Liberty as the last likely place for Mitt to offer a progressive stance on gay marriage. 

Sen. Rand Paul also took a shot at the president's gay-marriage endorsement in a speech he gave on Friday. Speaking in front of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Paul said, “Call me cynical, but I wasn't sure his views on marriage could get any gayer." This is not how the Republican Party is going to appeal itself to gay-marriage supporters! You can listen to Paul's remarks on gay marriage starting around 5:14 of this video:

The party isn't going to change overnight, but an influential pollster arguing for the Republicans to embrace marriage equality is one of the biggest steps the party has seen. “As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment, and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government," Lohuizen writes, "we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government."