The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After recognizing need to evolve on gay rights, GOP fails to evolve on gay rights

Remember that widely discussed Republican National Committee diagnosis that explicitly recognized the need for the party to rethink its approach to gay rights issues?  It said: “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, this issue is a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be.”

That was a nice sentiment. But here’s the reality:

The Republican National Committee passed resolutions Friday reaffirming its commitment to defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and calling on the Supreme Court to “uphold the sanctity of marriage” as it weighs rulings on two landmark cases involving gay marriage. At the RNC’s spring meeting in Los Angeles, committee members adopted a slate of resolutions unanimously and without discussion, a committee spokeswoman said.

What continues to remain striking here is that support for gay marriage is not just increasing among Americans overall. It’s that support for it is even higher than overall among the very groups among which Republicans themselves say they need to boost their party’s appeal.

Take today’s NBC/WSJ poll. It finds support for gay marriage up to 53 percent among Americans overall. According to additional numbers sent my way by Hart Research, which helped do the poll, support for it is at 56-40 among women; among women aged 18-39 those numbers are 69-29. Among Latinos, a plurality of 49 percent support gay marriage, but among young Latinos those numbers are 60-33. You can probably see which way things are going here.

Meanwhile, among college educated whites, support for gay marriage is at 60-36. This group is increasingly important to the Democratic coalition; the Democratic Party is less dependent on culturally conservative downscale whites than in previous years, permitting it to evolve more quickly on social issues. (And, interestingly, there’s a wide gap between college educated whites and non-college whites on gay marriage; the latter group opposes it by 47-46.)

The picture is overwhelmingly clear. The country is moving forward on gay marriage rapidly, and apparently even more rapidly among the voter groups the GOP can’t afford to alienate over time. Republicans know this — the RNC self-examination itself reflected it, only a couple months before the RNC reaffirmed its opposition to marriage equality as a matter of party dogma.


UPDATE: Numbers fixed among young women. It’s 69-29.