It’s not 2004 any more.

I’ve been looking at Republican Senate candidates’ Web sites today, and one of the things I was looking for was whether Republicans believe same-sex marriage is still a winner for them. The answer? A solid maybe, but perhaps leaning towards a “no.”

I looked at the 16 candidates most likely to wind up in the Senate in January, because they are running either for an open seat or against a perceived weak Democratic incumbent. Of those 16, half included their support of “traditional” marriage on the issue pages of their site.

What’s more, that was essentially the only issue about gay men and lesbians that attracted any interest. Only one of the candidates — Viriginia’s George Allen — took a position on any related issue. For what it’s worth, Allen still thinks it’s 2004 (or maybe he thinks it’s 1964, or something): He uses his issue page to oppose adding sexual orientation to the hate crimes list (that’s already happened) and adoption by same-sex couples. Allen also endorsed a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which only a few of those who mentioned the issue specified.

As always, there’s an important caveat here: I’m looking only at the Web sites, which may not include a full statement of the candidates’ positions, and even there I’m only looking for “issues” or similar sections. 

Still, while many Republicans will remain opposed to marriage equality, few appear to want to run on the issue or stress that they’ll fight hard against it, even those who are currently running in Republican primaries, where the electorate presumably is most likely to care about the issue. There’s no reticence on social issues in general; almost all of these candidates wanted to show their pro-life credentials, and Second Amendment issues were extremely prominent. But not sexual orientation. Is it an early sign of a future surrender? If I had to guess, I’d say so.