Gay marriage: Is GOP Tiptoeing Away From Opposition?

A great debate is going on within the Republican Party over how to handle one of the most sensitive social issues of modern times: the definition of marriage.

Supporters of same-sex marriage point to signs that the party is gradually changing its tune on the issue, as it seeks to grow its appeal among younger voters and project a more inclusive image.

While defense of traditional marriage has long been a defining issue for GOP social conservatives, a recent Pew poll found that 61 percent of Republicans under age 30 favor the right to same-sex marriage.

“The movement in favor [of same-sex marriage rights] is moving much faster than many would have predicted in the Republican Party, but it’s still a very difficult issue,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.  

After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee (RNC) did some soul-searching on how to widen its appeal among women, minorities, young voters, and other groups that skew Democratic, and released a report on its findings.

It was more a call for a change of tone than a full-on call for support of same-sex marriage. But some Republicans call it an important start.

“You have to have a slow move toward where you’re talking about respect, and saying, ‘Hey, these are people, too,’ ” says Mr. O’Connell, who adds that it’s “highly unlikely” the party’s presidential nominee in 2016 will endorse gay marriage.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Analysis & Political Strategy