The strident anti-gay marriage and anti-gay rights forces on the right, having lost their grip on public opinion, now can’t convince fellow Republicans of their views. Two examples merit some discussion.
First, the Associated Press reports:
A crop of Republican officials who wanted to oust former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage have been replaced in their party positions.
Illinois Republicans across the state held elections for all 18 state central committee member posts this week, replacing six of the seven officials who signed on to a letter last year to hold a vote on removing Brady as chairman. The seventh person to sign the letter, Mark Shaw of the 10th Congressional District, was re-elected to a four-year term.
Brady began making public statements in January 2013 in support of same-sex marriage, contrary to the party’s platform that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Committee members in favor of his removal said he not only violated the platform, but commented without notifying them first.
Brady, in turn, described the party as “on wrong side of history.”
It isn’t surprising that Republicans are turning away from opposition to gay marriage. When, as one poll showed last year, nearly two-thirds of millennial evangelicals support gay marriage, you know the party is shifting. One millennial wrote:
Young people are ushering in a stunning change in public opinion on the issue of same sex marriage, and record levels of Americans now support this cause. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58% of Americans now support gay marriage, which marks a remarkable 26 percentage point jump in just nine years. The most sizeable support comes from 18-29 year olds, where 81% now believe gay marriage should be legal, an increase of 24 percentage points from 2004.
What’s even more surprising is the increase in support for same sex marriage amongst Republicans. According to a survey of 16,000 Americans from Project Right Side, self-identified Republican support over the last nine years has grown by 18 percentage points to 33%, and among Republicans under 50, support has increased 17 points to 52%. White Evangelical Protestant support has grown 24 percentage points to 31%. Even Catholic support has grown by 19 percentage points, to a 59% high.
And that was before the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions on gay marriage.
Second, few conservatives want to defend blatant bias against or unsubstantiated generalizations about gays. In one of the truly weird anti-gay slurs in recent memory, Franklin Graham on ABC’s “This Week” claimed gay couples are recruiting potential gays by adopting children from overseas orphanages. What followed next is what is significant. In the discussion about Graham’s statement, the most Republican evangelical activist Ralph Reed would say is that the jury is out on social science relating to gay parents. We’ve gone from condemnation of gay marriage to timid questions about the definitiveness of a study on gay parenting in just a few years.
The opposition to gay marriage is crumbling on the right, as it is everywhere. The true sign of progress is the deafening silence on the topic in the run-up to the 2014 elections.