Are Republican Politicians Secretly Rooting for a Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage?

Thursday, April 30, 2015
(photo: Getty Images)

Regardless of the rhetoric Republican presidential hopefuls have expressed in opposing same-sex marriages, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of such unions might be just what GOP politicians want.


Publicly, Republican leaders will continue to defend the ideal that marriage should only be between men and women in order to appease the powerful, if intolerant, base of voters in their party. As many as 40% of GOP voters are white evangelicals who overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriages, and Republican candidates can ill afford to alienate this group if they want to become their party’s nominee. But if those politicians want to see their party grow, they will have to begin attracting younger voters who strongly favor same-sex marriages.


“The Supreme Court gave Republicans a gift by taking up this issue and taking it up this year,” Gregory T. Angelo, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports civil marriage equality, told CNN. “There will be 17 months of advanced notice that GOP candidates will have to come to the conclusion that I hope they will come to, which is to understand that gay families are here to stay and part of the fabric of this country. For those Republicans who maintain an opposition to gay marriage, it is only going to get more difficult to hold that line.”


A court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriages once and for all would allow GOP candidates to publicly decry the decision, giving their conservative supporters what they want to hear. But it would also allow them the chance to concentrate on other issues instead of continually defining themselves as socially intolerant leaders whose views are unacceptable to millennials, the next generation of voters. If they can’t change this perception, “the consequences could be even greater down the line, in four or eight years, or beyond,” Nate Cohn wrote at The New York Times. “If Republicans don’t make a big effort to make gains among nonwhite voters, or if they do but fail, they’ll need to broaden their appeal among white voters. That might require them to do better among relatively secular voters than they have in the past.”


Public support for same-sex marriage is quickly increasing. In 2004, only 30% of people supported gay marriage. The level of support rocketed to 56% by 2014.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Why a Ruling for Same-Sex Marriage Would Help Republicans (by Nate Cohn, New York Times)

3 Reasons Republicans Might Cheer a Pro-Gay-Marriage Ruling (by Mara Liasson, National Public Radio)

The GOP’s Tricky Same-Sex Marriage Balancing Act (by Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN)

Marriage Case Brings a Flurry of Competing Amicus Briefs (by Robert Pear, New York Times)

GOP Struggling With Shifts on Gay Marriage (by Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

Poll: Gay-Marriage Support at Record High (Scott Clement and Robert Barnes, Washington Post)

Gay Group in State Celebrates Recognition by a Political Party that Rejects Them (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

For the First Time, a Majority of Americans Say that Same-Sex Marriage should be Legal (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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