Right Wing Watch notes that while Tony Perkins has been bragging to anyone who would listen that the Family Research Council had enormous influence over the Republican party platform, gay Republican groups remain hopeful that the tide is turning in their favor. Peter Montgomery attended an event hosted by two of those groups and got some interesting quotes:
“[I]t’s a whole new world out there” and in the Republican Party, says former member of Congress Jim Kolbe, who was “outed” while in office. He contends that the kind of resistance to LGBT equality that is reflected in this year’s platform is a generational issue — “the last gasp of the conservatives,” he calls it — and boldly predicts that this is the last year in which the platform will contain such language. When I suggest that if Ralph Reed’s turnout operation among conservative evangelicals does as much for the Republicans in November as Reed hopes, the party is not likely to turn its backs on the anti-gay religious right base, Kolbe shrugs and says both parties appeal to their bases for turnout. “We will have the victory,” he says.
Sarah Longwell, who serves on the Leadership Committee for Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, affirms that it was disappointing that Perkins, who is “brutally anti-gay,” was basically allowed to write the part of the platform pertaining to marriage and LGBT rights…
Those hoping for the GOP to embrace equality do have a point about generational change. Polling shows that equality is making gains among individual Republicans, especially those under the age of 44, who are now about evenly split on the question of marriage equality. Longwell points to the key role played by Republicans who joined Democrats in advancing marriage equality in New York, New Hampshire, and other states. Longwell says she believes that the crass anti-gay wedge politics employed by the GOP in 2004 played a role in encouraging Republicans like Dick Cheney, Ken Mehlman, and Laura Bush to be more outspoken in their support for marriage equality. If 2004 was a turning point, she says, 2012 could be a “tipping point,” at which shifting public opinion makes overt anti-gay politicking unfeasible. “You can’t demagogue gay people forever.” Perkins, however, may have a different opinion on that, and no small measure of power in the G.O.P.
They’re right, the Republican party is going to have to confront this sooner or later. I’d bet on sooner. Given the trends in public opinion on gay rights, by 2016 their positions are going to start looking a lot like the Dixiecrats 40 years ago. But how do they join the 21st century on that issue without losing their religious right base, which prefers to inhabit the 19th century? That’s the million dollar question.
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