Republicans for Gay Marriage?
One GOP pollster thinks it’s all but inevitable.


Daniel Foster

While van Lohuizen admitted that such distinctions aren’t captured in the data that informs his memos, he referred to a survey he helped design on support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Two questions — one on the section of DOMA that forbids the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex unions from the states, and the other on the section that denies various legal benefits afforded to spouses (such as hospital visitation) to same-sex couples — suggest that support for and opposition to same-sex marriage can and do exist apart from support for and opposition to individual principles and doctrines implicated in the gay-marriage debate.

To wit, the survey shows that while only 52 percent of respondents supported gay marriage, 59 percent believed the federal government should recognize legal same-sex unions from the states. And even larger majorities believed that the government should extend to same-sex couples various privileges and responsibilities attendant on traditional marriage:

Interestingly, while there are conservatives and Republicans who express these sorts of “cat’s out of the bag” views on issues attendant to legalized gay marriage, there are also attempts by some gay-marriage proponents to accommodate the worries of Republicans and conservatives on the same. Here, van Lohuizen pointed to Maryland’s Question 6, which last year granted gay and lesbian couples the ability to obtain civil-marriage licenses. But the ballot question also, according to an official summary:

protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

It’s not crazy to think that Question 6, which passed with a narrow majority of 52.4 percent and represents the first time same-sex marriage has been legalized in the United States through a popular vote, was pushed across the finish line by such protections. Indeed, the legislative precursor to Question 6 passed the Maryland state house only after its sponsors beefed up religious protections.

In a world in which one can be against gay marriage but for its recognition, and for marriage equality but against requiring its religious recognition, it’s not enough to ask whether the Republican party is destined to wed “freedom to marry.” The truth is, it’s complicated.

— Daniel Foster is NRO’s news editor.


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