When Will the VA GOP Drop The Fight Against Marriage Equality?
It’s a movement building across the country. Traditionally conservative Republican groups are rethinking their stance on social issues and this feeling is shifting in to the main stream. But when will the Virginia GOP see this shift away from opposition to “live and let live,” or even support when it comes to same-sex marriage?
Earlier this month, the Nevada Republican Party convention voted to drop opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion from their party platform. The decision was by no means unanimous, but those who supported the move were not afraid to explain their views.
NV State Party Chairman Michael McDonald told the Las Vegas Review-Journal “I think it was about
inclusion, not exclusion… This is where the party is going.” Dave Hockaday, one of the NV platform committee members echoed this statement saying “The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives… We need to
focus on issues where we can have an impact.”
This attitude of putting fiscally conservative issues ahead of social issue is one gay conservatives, like Rick Sincere, an openly gay libertarian blogger based in Charlottesville, hopes is already creeping into the fold.
“I’ve had talks with republican office holders who say they’re maintaining their position [against marriage equality], but they recognize where the arc of public opinion is,” said Sincere, who’s been active in the VA GOP for over 20 years. “It’s not something they are gonna bet their careers on.”
Sincere also explained the attitude towards same-sex marriage and gay members of the GOP is different out west. He recalled a trip out to Las Vegas 15 years ago when he met the Executive Director of the NV GOP who was openly gay.
“They have a different attitude all together,” said Sincere.
Party structure and the way issues are handled within the GOP here in VA are also different – there’s no party platform and candidates are selected and endorsed differently. But the issue of same-sex marriage is still one which is in the ears of GOP members.
“If the initiative for something like (marriage equality) is going to come, it’s going to have to come from elected office holders and candidates running for public office,” said Sincere. And it’s started to happen. During the 2014 GA session republican delegate, Joseph Yost (R-Roanoke) signed on to support the repeal of the state’s 2006 voter approved ban on same-sex marriage.
But it’s not only gay members of the GOP which hope to see a change in conservative Virginia’s party politics, conservative commentators around the state are not afraid to push for a more accepting Republican party.
“I can’t tell my kids who they’re supposed to marry,” said Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial Associate Editor Robin Beres. “How can I tell anyone else? We need to come into the 21st century here.”
Beres has been in support of a more gay-friendly GOP for some time. She wrote about the issue last July in the TD.
The GOP needs to remember those original goals — limited government and freedom for all. Leave the divisive issues of abortion and gay marriage off the national platform. Take a cue from the left and welcome all. There are plenty of fiscally conservative, freedom-loving atheists, gays, pro-choicers, Jews and Muslims who vote. Immigration made this country great — embrace it.
Beres wasn’t afraid to call out long-held traditions in the party in the hope that it will create change for a political body she’s long ascribed to.
“I wish someone would talk to the very religious faction of the party about how the Bible talks about slavery, and sacrificing birds after someone had a baby and we don’t do that anymore,” joked Beres. “Just because we’re moving past things in the bible doesn’t mean the bible doesn’t still hold relevance.”
Polling data shows a slight majority of Virginians support same-sex marriage, but a vocal conservative minority is not afraid to remind the rest of the country some Virginians don’t agree to the change. But if the 2013 political campaign taught us anything, it’s that social issues can make or break a campaign.
“Cuccinelli knew he was not a winner on social issues, he wasn’t gonna run away from it or deny it, but he wasn’t campaigning on it,” said conservative blogger Jim Bacon of the blog Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon said he’s personally gone through a great change when it comes to marriage equality and now supports the push.
But Bacon isn’t too optimistic about his views on the issue transferring to the rest of Virginia’s republican voters. “I think there’s a significant portion of the VA republican party who are passionate about these issues who aren’t going to give these up.”
Both Bacon and Beres agree as long as the republicans run against same-sex marriage, it will continue to be a thorn in their side, even if they don’t want to discuss it. “Democrats see the writing on the wall, they are gonna do their best to pin down republicans on [same-sex marriage],” said Bacon. “As long as that’s the case, we’ll continue to see this as a campaign issue.”
Sincere noted he thought the GOP’s internal struggle with marriage equality was framed pretty well in a recent SNL sketch where GOP mainstays Jeb Bush And Paul Ryan tried to address a crowd of young folks at the music festival Cochella.
Fake Jeb Bush asks the crowd if they are in favor of gay marriage, and when they respond with overwhelming roars of support, fake Paul Ryan says “We are not going to talk about it as much.”
The VA GOP and several republican elected officials were contact for comment on this story, but none responded by press time.
The future of same-sex marriage here in VA will probably fall in the hands of the Supreme Court in the coming years, but what impact will that have on the future of gay conservatives? And will same-sex marriage be a talking point during the 2014 election cycle? Well have to wait and see.
Randolph Macon Professor Dave Brat has made headlines for his unprecedented win in the bid for VA’s 7th congressional District seat, but while Eric Cantor’s stance on marriage equality was well known, Brat’s is still up for debate. In the “Protecting Values” section of his campaign’s website, Brat promises to “protect the rights of the [...]June 11, 2014
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