Are Republicans Changing Their Tune on Same-Sex Marriage?

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Republicans — especially those in the younger generation — are seeking to blaze new paths. Specifically on the issue of LGBTQ rights and the right to marry. Historically, the Republican party has had a number of weaknesses when it comes to appealing to certain constituents. Numerous studies have shown that Democrats are considerably more racially diverse and tend to appeal to women more than Republicans — regardless of age — while the GOP was 89 percent non-hispanic white, according to a 2013 Gallup poll in February. On topics such as immigration, tax reform, and abortion, Republicans have very clear leanings. In terms of abortion, for example,  68 percent of Republicans are “pro-life,” while 73 percent of Democrats are “pro-choice,” according to a Gallup poll.

But a group born out of Freedom to Marry called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is working on building support among conservatives for same-sex marriage. The movement is a response to the growing number of people in the younger generations who are less aligned with historical conservative opinion on the issue. The movement is especially salient in light of state government rulings on marriage bans, which, as was the case in Michigan most recently, have been seeing a pattern of overturn and appeal. The Young Conservatives group outlined its “Roadmap to Victory” on how to shut down federal discrimination, with amassed public support, state marriage majorities, and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court.

The group hits back on the “protect the American family” rhetoric, saying “Marriage says ‘We are family‘ in a way no other word does,” noting that while “there have been attempts to create marriage-like relationship systems, … they don’t provide the same security and protections.”

Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry, the larger overarching group, said that the work being done is aimed to eventually have an effect on the Supreme Court, and will include supporters traveling to Republican meetings, polling, and TV ads. “We are absolutely working in every way we can to show America is ready for the freedom to marry, and that includes, increasingly, Republicans,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As for the Republican party as a whole, Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told The Wall Street Journal, “It’s up to the delegates to affirm our platform every four years. The principles of the platform that was passed in Tampa remain the platform we operate by and will until the next convention.”

Still, a March Pew Research Poll showed that 61 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 are in favor of same-sex marriage, and that only 35 percent oppose it. In a post 2012 election report, the RNC released a Growth & Opportunity Project report, in which it noted the growing need for inclusion if it is to appeal to the younger generation. ”We do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” it read, 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.”

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