About Time

Is the GOP Finally Getting Hip to Gay Marriage?

Just as the Nevada GOP drops its opposition to same-sex marriage, a group of young conservatives is launching a campaign to change anti-gay language in the national party platform.

04.17.14 9:45 AM ET

Conventioneers at the Nevada Republican Party just did a remarkable thing. They decided Republicans should be consistent with their philosophy of more freedom and less government—so they eliminated opposition to gay marriage from their party platform.

And now there is a move to change anti-gay language in the national GOP platform. A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, which includes Margaret Hoover (who is married to Daily Beast editor in chief John Avlon), Abby Huntsman, Meghan McCain, and Tyler Deaton, announced Wednesday that they are launching a $1 million campaign to eliminate harsh language and replace it with unifying framing, while still respecting differing views on marriage within the party.

The goal of the campaign is to reform the national platform. To do so, Young Conservatives are traveling to the four early primary states—New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina—this spring and summer to talk to elected and rank-and-file Republicans.

The reform-the-platform campaign is a response to the Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project report (PDF) and the College Republicans report (PDF), both of which say the party has a major problem with younger voters.

The Young Conservatives also are responding to the pockets of grassroots pro-gay marriage GOP activism in Nevada, Indiana, California, and Oregon. Party leaders in these states are modifying their platform language to make it less divisive.

Gay marriage is the last frontier of civil rights in this country. But the train is at last leaving the station.

And it’s picking up steam fast. Recent polling reveals that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 now support gay marriage. Ten federal court judges in a row have now ruled favorably on the issue, two of them appointed by Republican presidents. Courts of appeals are now hearing gay marriage cases, and it won’t be long before one is sent to the Supreme Court.

Towering Republican figures such as Ted Olson, who successfully argued the recount before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, and former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, who recently starred in an ad extolling the values of marriage for everyone, are helping to lead the fight, sending a strong signal that it’s time the GOP shifted gears.

I don’t expect Republicans to be marching in the streets anytime soon in support of gay marriage. But they won’t ever again be marching in the streets against it. The wedge has lost its edge—and it’s about time.