GOP shifts on gay marriage

Republican National Committee report calls for more 'inclusive and welcoming' tones on divisive social issues
Associated Press
Jul 13, 2014


Deep in the nation's Bible Belt, new signs emerged this weekend of an evolution among Republican governors on gay marriage, an explosive social issue that has divided American families and politics for years.

While the Republican Party's religious conservatives continue to fight against same-sex marriage, its governors appear to be backing off their opposition— in their rhetoric, at least. For some, the shift may be more a matter of tone than substance as the GOP tries to attract new voters ahead of the midterm elections. Nonetheless, it is dramatic turn for a party that has long been defined by social conservative values.

"I don't think the Republican Party is fighting it," Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker said of gay marriage. He spoke with The Associated Press during an interview this weekend at the National Governors Association in Nashville.

"I'm not saying it's not important," continued Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid should he survive his re-election test this fall. "But Republicans haven't been talking about this. We've been talking about economic and fiscal issues. It's those on the left that are pushing it."

Walker, like other ambitious Republican governors, is trying to strike a delicate balance.

His comments come just days after he formally appealed a federal judge's ruling striking down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriages, a ban he supported. But after his party's disastrous 2012 election, the Republican National Committee commissioned a report calling for more "inclusive and welcoming" tones on divisive social issues — particularly those "involving the treatment and the rights of gays."

Walker explained his court appeal simply as his obligation as governor to defend the state's constitution.

Other Republican governors, however, including New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, opted against appealing a similar ruling in his state, clearing the way for gay marriage to become legal there. But his decision came only after he vetoed his state legislature's initial effort to legalize the practice.

Christie said that same-sex marriage "is a settled issue" in New Jersey, but that the rest of the country would resolve it in time.

"Do I think it's resolved now? No," Christie said. "The overwhelming majority of states in the country still ban same-sex marriage, so I don't think it's time to stop having a discussion."

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, suggested that Republicans are better served by focusing on economic issues.

"I'm a religious conservative, I'm a Catholic, I'm pro-life," he said. "(But) I think the people of Iowa look to me to provide leadership in bringing good jobs and growing the Iowa economy."

A Gallup poll found in May that national support for same-sex marriage reached an all-time high of 55 percent. That includes 30 percent of Republicans and nearly 8 in 10 young adults from both parties.

Courts across the nation repeatedly have struck down gay marriage bans in recent months. The latest such ruling came Wednesday in Colorado, but it's on hold pending an appeal. At least 20 states now allow gay marriage, although the issue may be headed for the Supreme Court.

The high court's landmark ruling last summer allowed married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as other married people but did not specifically address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.

Democratic governors serving in Republican-leaning states that have banned gay marriage also appear to have softened their stands on the issue. Many said they were looking to the Supreme Court to resolve the issue once and for all.

Like Walker, Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is appealing a recent court ruling that struck down his state's gay marriage ban.

"My goal is to get that issue to the United States Supreme Court and get a final decision that will tell us all what the law is going to be in the future, and then Kentucky will abide by it," Beshear said.

Walker, too, said that Republican governors would be "legally obligated" to support gay marriage should the Supreme Court rule in its favor.

For now, the Republican Party's official platform, as adopted in 2012, calls for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as "the union of one man and one woman," while formally supporting Republican-led campaigns to make the same change in state constitutions.

And despite the softening rhetoric, several states are continuing to fight.

Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky are scheduled to present arguments against recent gay marriage rulings in their states before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Aug. 6.

"The Republican Party has been on the wrong side of history on marriage equality," said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who leads the Democratic Governors Association. "Whether it's women's rights, voters' rights, workers' rights or marriage rights, this is not the most creative group of people that are open-minded to being inclusive."



thinkagain's picture

Why oppose same-sex marriage?

Because God does!


ThinkAgain: If there was a god, then he created gays, just as he created homophobes like you. A you sure you want to arouse his wrath by saying that he made a mistake?


God made people. People make choices. Don't blame God. People murder other people. Should we just allow that because "God made them"?

Setting God aside.............homosexuality is a perverted behavior. Frankly it SICKENS me. I DO NOT....WILL NOT...CAN NOT.....accept it as "normal". Never, ever, will it be, no matter how "politically correct" it becomes.


He made Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer. By your reasoning, any act can be justified because God created the one committing it.

Yet another Coasterfan logic fail.

The Answer Person

You REALLY need to read AND try to comprehend what the Bible says instead of listening to the evangelical hate mongers who ONLY want your money.


Get on board or get left behind!

Darwin's choice

So, idiot, when incest becomes the "norm", wil you be doing your sister?

Fool, you're on a very slippery slope.



If you are saying that homosexuality has any correlation with incest, then you are embarrassingly misinformed. I recommend that you read the transcript from the California Proposition 8 trial. This lie was thoroughly debunked during the trial, along with all of the other time-honored misconceptions cited by homophobes.


It has correlation with incest as BOTH are deviant behaviors.


What lie exactly was that?

There are judges in England currently calling for legalizing incest using many of the same arguments made by same sex marriage advocates.

You clearly don't comprehend what correlation means.

Another Coasterfan logic fail.


In Ohio you can marry your second cousin. What if both sets of grandparents are cousins?
Marriage licenses were instituted in many states when syphilis became epidemic. Couples had to take a Wasserman blood test to prove they were not infected. Then it became an income issue.... like a dog tax.


More government intrusion with no sound basis. If someone has syphilis, why stop them from taking themselves off the sexual market, so to speak.


You are so dumb doofus. Even those that actually sleep with their your neck of the woods.... they still aren't gay!


You jumped on board a train with no clue as to your destination! I'll gladly be "left behind", thank you.


You have been left behind for years!!!!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hi, I'm 8 in 10.

I don't necessarily care what you do with whom (or multiple people) on your own time and dime and all consent. That said, the last paragraph of the story I find to be petty. This is a non-issue to me.

Legally we are looking at two people entering into a contract with each other. Two (or more) wo/men have been doing that together for years in business. I can buy life insurance on my (business) partner. We can enter into other contracts together. We may even spend long nights in the office together. What's the difference?

It would seem that in the contract of marriage it is just presumed you will have sex (with the other presumptions that act only occurs in marriage and is for the sole purpose of reproduction), and that is apparently the no-no? Oh how many desks in our country have been used for non-business purposes...

That aside, there are so many more resources being wasted on this issue which the concept of marriage itself is what needs to be reformed (or at least better understood) by those who participate in it. How many couples (sure, let's include homosexuals in here too and even poly groups because why not) get married "because you're supposed to"? How many actually understand what the legal contract means, does, and such? I'm more worried that something like this is treated as a cursory detail that just needs to be done than I am about the genders of the participants involved. It isn't just government waste spent on this, either.

Divorces can cost tens of thousands of dollars:

That doesn't matter what you have between your legs or what you do with it.

Instead of worrying about genitalia, why aren't our politicians and governments more worried about getting messages like this out:

I could give a flip about the moral/societal costs of allowing people to marry, what is worse is that there seems to be little attention paid to or outreach towards the institution (industry?) of divorce or other "consequences" of marriage.

That said, Republicans, kindly drop this issue. As a young, vocal voter to you. Our country is going to hell economically (which affects everyone of every make and model) and who puts what where should be the last thing you need to concern yourself with or be an issue over which you lose sleep.


Amen! Awesome post, and I wish that others will take your links and read them.


Fagge* flamer


Actually, this article is truly news: it documents a Republican actually encouraging his party to be inclusive. If he gets re-elected, I'll be even more impressed, since being inclusive isn't exactly a priority for the party's base.

A Conservative says: if it hasn't happened to me or my immediate family, I don't care.
A Liberal says: this should never happen to anyone, that's why I care.


Surprisingly in 2013 polls over 50% of republicans now support Gay Marriage. Up from just over 20% in 2011.

Those who use the argument that the Majority voted to Ban it should be surprised to learn that is no longer the case.

The Big Dog's back

A lot of Repubs like Portman finally acknowledge the gays in their family's. Kind of hard to ignore when they live in their house.


If the Church doesn't recognize your marriage... so what? It won't recognize your divorce either.
If the state doesn't recognize your marriage....
Common Law marriage was legal until 1991 in Ohio.
Same-gender partners who aren't married still can avail themselves of all rights of married couples simply by filing legal documents the same as any other two non-married persons.
So... it's about the love and the desire for permanence.


Actually, you just presented arguments that that is NOT what it's all about. Love and permanence can be had with the contracts you cite. What can't happen is the stamp of moral approval from the state.

Why should the state be in the moral approval business anyway? Do away with marriage licenses.


Should be a states' rights (10th Amend) issue.

SCOTUS used an estate tax case to make it's ruling on DOMA.

Eliminate fed and state estate taxes and the issue of who lives with who largely drops away and "marriage" once again become the purview of religion.

H*ll, if UT want's polygamy to be legal, why not?


I'm with you.

Anyone who's observed even a little of divorce court realizes that civil marriage is NOT the package of benefits the SSM lobby makes it out to be, but rather a HUGE government imposition.

Just wait until some SS married couple with a huge disparity in earning power and pre-marital wealth goes to divorce court. The rich partner's lawyer will advance every argument ever made against SSM as a reason his client shouldn't be subject to marital property laws.


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