Same-Sex Marriage: Has the GOP Changed Its Views?

same-sex marriage gayThe Supreme Court has set a date for its same-sex marriage argument, on Tuesday, April 28. With the hearing scheduled for next month, a national legal decision is imminent after years of appeals and state and local battles over the issues. The national reception of gay marriage has changed a great deal in this time, both because national opinion has changed on the personal individual level, and at the larger level of cultural acceptance. This, in turn, has forced political parties to alter the way they approach same-sex relations and the idea of same-sex marriage.

As voters have become more open and supportive of various sexual preferences and gender identities, political parties have been forced to follow suit in order to appeal to their electorates. Democrats have generally been quicker to support the LGBT community, but all parties and most politicians have undergone a transformation of some sort, even if that transformation is merely from vocal to subdued. But the Republican party has seen some particularly noticeable changes in recent years. There’s the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry group, and recommendations within the Republican party that in order to compete, it needs to seem more open-minded on the issue of same-ex relationships — because for some voters it’s a make-or-break topic.

We do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” reads the Republican National Congress’s Growth and Opportunity Project report for 2012, pointing out that “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”

This week, politicians within the Republican Party made decisive moves toward accomplishing just that, with a filed Amici Curiae brief sent to the Supreme Court of the United States appealing to the Justices in favor of same-sex marriage. “Although amici hold a broad spectrum of socially and politically conservative, moderate, and libertarian views, amici share the view that laws that bar same-sex couples form the institution of civil marriage, with all its attendant profoundly important rights and responsibilities,” reads the brief. It goes on to describe marriage as a constitutionally guaranteed and protected right.

It’s an interesting mix of conservatism and equal rights, predictably following previous Republican examples and focusing on family values. “When the government does act in ways that affect individual freedom in matters of family and child-rearing, it should promote family-supportive values like responsibility, fidelity, commitment, and stability,” it stated, adding that “there is a need for more Americans to choose to participate in the institution of marriage.” A second brief is expected from the American Military Partners Association, claiming that the way laws are divided on marriage at present “harms military families and undermines national security.”

Of course, this brief is hardly evidence that all members of the GOP are prepared to accept or support same-sex marriage. Many have begun curtailing overtly homophobic or negative commentary, but there’s a clear preference with many right leaning politicians to block changes to state law on the issue of marriage. This is something the first brief interestingly admits, stating “many of the signatories to this brief previously did not support civil marriage for same-sex couples; others did not hold a position on the issue until recently.”

Even so, as a gesture, it’s an extreme departure from the Defense of Marriage Act not so long ago, and the military brief is a far cry from Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell. The more-than-300 names added to the Republican brief is an impressive feat. And some signatures come from political names that have long been attached to pro-same-sex marriage rhetoric, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Other names include former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, Senators, Representatives, and a number of state representatives from Michigan (historically rather anti-LGBT), including state Representatives Patricia Godchaux and Susan Grimes Gilbert.

It seems that after many years of gridlock and hostility, there might be one topic gaining more and more bipartisan support — even if immigration and other vital topics still remain too divisive to see effective policy changes at present.

But while lawsuits filed against Obama might have different parties rooting for different outcomes, the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage might have some blue and red seats on the same side of the courtroom, and the same side of the issue.

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