Signs G.O.P. Is Rethinking Its Stance on Gay Marriage?

The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney has a piece in today’s paper claiming that the “the issue of gay marriage may be turning into more of a hindrance than a help” for the Republican Party. 

Citing a recent poll showing that 57 percent of those under the age 40 said they support marriage equality, Nagourney says it suggests to “many Republicans that the potency of the gay-marriage question is on the decline.” He then quotes three Republicans, the first being Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s senior strategist during his presidential campaign.

Schmidt recently came out in favor of marriage equality, so it is no surprise that he thinks the GOP should re-examine its stance on the issue. But, as Timothy Potter of the Family Research Council put it, Steve Schmidt isn’t exactly speaking for the majority of the party these days:

Steve Schmidt isn’t the head of the GOP. But I don’t doubt that there are others in the GOP establishment who think like him, and I don’t care. The GOP should do what it thinks is best for itself. I don’t think abandoning a third of your base is necessarily a good idea.

The article also contains a quote from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

Asked if he thought, given recent events, that Republicans were making a political mistake in emphasizing gay issues, Mr. Pawlenty, who is 48, responded: “I think it’s an important issue for our conservative voters.” But he notably did not dwell on the subject.

Apparently, because he didn’t “dwell” on the topic, that somehow suggests that the party as a whole is undergoing some sort of shift.

Finally, Nagourney quotes Rudy Giuliani of all people, saying that voters are more concerned with issues like the economy and national security and don’t really care about social issues right now:

“Right now, people are not concerned about issues like gay marriage because they are concerned about the economy,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former Republican mayor of New York, told reporters in Albany after meeting with Republican members of the state Senate, who are opposing legislation to legalize gay marriage.

Mr. Giuliani explained that he opposed gay marriage — while supporting civil unions — but that he did not think it made much sense for Republicans to be harping on the issue if the party had any serious interest in returning to power.

“The Republican party does best organizing itself around economic issues and issues of national security,” said Mr. Giuliani, 64, who ran for president last year and is now thinking about running for governor of New York.

It should be pointed out that Giuliani might not be a particularly good representation of just what the Republican Party thinks about anything, considering that he spent $60 million seeking the GOP nomination last year and dropped out after securing a whopping one delegate. His campaign tanked thanks, in part, to right-wing threats to abandon the GOP should he become the nominee because of his views on the issue of marriage and reproductive choice.

While polls may show that the GOP’s anti-gay views are becoming less popular with voters, especially younger voters, there is still a long way to go before the party itself abandons its traditional stance on the issue … and considering that the Religious Right would rather see the party destroyed than allow that to happen, it’s unlikely that any such a massive shift will be happening any time soon.