In Tampa, Pro-Gay Marriage Republicans Worry Their Party Is Out of Touch

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Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Sarah Longwell, a leader in a group of young Republicans who support same-sex marriage, holds up a copy of the Tampa Tribune on Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

Tampa

When Sarah Longwell came to the podium in a downtown Tampa suite, she held up a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Tampa Tribune showcasing same-sex couples. It was a $20,000 rebuke of the Republican party paid for by Longwell’s group, Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, an organization of Republicans who support gay marriage despite their party’s staunch opposition to it. The day before, GOP officials in Tampa had approved a platform that supported states’ rights not to recognize same-sex marriage and a constitutional amendment to define the institution as a union between one man and one woman. Longwell was incensed.

“The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society,” the ad reads, quoting a line from the platform. Then the ad says: “We agree.” Capitalizing on the conservative belief that marriage improves society, Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is trying to change the Republican view of gay marriage from the inside. “If marriage is a stabilizing force, we should want more people to be married,” political pundit Margaret Hoover said at the Wednesday brunch, just a few blocks from the arena where Mitt Romney will accept the GOP nomination.

(PHOTOS: The RNC’s Kickoff in Pictures)

Pro-gay marriage Republicans emphasize the Party’s changing demographics. Polls suggest that young conservatives favor gay marriage at higher rates than their older compatriots. In a Pew Research Center survey that polled the millennial generation, 37% of respondents who said they were Republican or leaned Republican also said they supported the legalization of gay marriage. Just 20% of Republicans overall say the same thing. “You are going to lose people. You are going to lose relevance,” Longwell said of the GOP’s stance. “At some point, it’s going to look like you’re so out of touch that people will abandon you.”

Romney takes a more conservative stance on gay marriage today than he once did. Campaigning for the Massachusetts Senate in 1994, he wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, telling them that he supported “full equality” and open, “honest” military service. But in the run-up to his 2008 presidential campaign, Romney pressed Congress to ban same-sex marriage and opposed overturning “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”  His vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has shown some willingness to support gay rights–he voted for a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. But opposing discrimination is long way from endorsing gay marriage, and groups like Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry are frustrated with the ticket they nonetheless support.

With no hope of altering the current platform, the group will concentrate on winning one Republican convert at a time, particularly legislators who can effect change at the state level. On Wednesday, those assembled were eager to celebrate the converts in their midst. One was Ted McCormac, a Tea Party Republican who was there to support his gay son, Tony, and Jeff Cook, his soon-to-be son-in-law. “I don’t think you realize how important issues are until you’re living them,” he says. “In fifty years, it’ll be much less of an issue than it is today.”

40 comments
Thomas Alex
Thomas Alex

“At some point, it’s going to look like you’re so out of touch that people will abandon you.” So true, seeing how 77% of adults 18 to 30 support same-sex marriage.

Tobey Pearson
Tobey Pearson

What we should do is have Barack Obama and Mitt Romney mate then make the child they produce President.  Hopefully, he/she would have the social conscience of Barack and the fiscal conservatism of Mitt.  Problem solved!  You're welcome, America. 

sacredh
sacredh

"Pro-Gay Marriage Republicans Worry Their Party Is Out of Touch"

.

They are way too busy having sex if they're just noticing this.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Or they have to take the d!cks and nipples out of their ears.

sacredh
sacredh

That was a truly disgusting comment and yet somehow I feel the need to pinch one of my nipples.

MrObvious
MrObvious

DOH!

It's kind of like this; you're in a terrible accident and you're kind of dazed and in shock and you notice that you're leg is broken. But you don't feel any pain and you say something stupid like 'I'm worried I might've broken my leg'.

Now we just have to wait for the pain to set in.

Arimathean
Arimathean

Wonder where Rusty is...

Isn't he due to come in and whine about RINOs?

Arimathean
Arimathean

It does my heart good yo read about Republicans who was live their civil convictions, rather than their pithy assumptions. Best of luck to them!

Wayne
Wayne

How I miss my "traditional marriage". Like Joshua and Abraham, I had a number of wives (forgot how many). Along came the christians and "redefined marriage" so I had to pick just one. I picked the wrong one, but thankfully, those christians also redefined divorce, so now I can have multiple wives.....sequentially. I think they call it the "New(t) Commandment"!

Pollopa
Pollopa

I am glad to see there are Republicans who can think for themselves, but I also have to wonder what makes them be republicans if the party they support does not represent them?  What is in the republican platform that draws you to support them, or what is in the democratic party that drives you away? Seems Sarah has a passion that is not all that great if she can part with it for some other cause. the party platforms are quite clear.   If there is something that you are passionate about, I would think you have a choice to make.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The Republican party demonizes many others beside gays.   The Republican gays just want equality for themselves, not other Republican targets. 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Bless you, Katy, or your copy editor as the case may be, for offering my laugh of the day. 

Now I will go read the article.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I am still laughing having read the body of the article.  Here are a few thoughts.

Marriage is a great institution, if you don't mind living in an institution.

Gays should be allowed to marry and share our misery. 

If Republican gays (I mean the ones not in the closet or in airport toilets) care about equality, they are urinating against the wind in the wrong place.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

When will family value people really they have won?  Remember the problem in the 1970s was that straights wanted to live together without institution of marriage?  The Conservative movement has demonstrated that marriage is such a wonderful thing, that gays and lesbians want to get married.  You would think the family values people would be happy that former heathens have come to their way of thinking.

Diana
Diana

DOMA will be upheld.  Marriage should only be between a man and a woman.  The majority of voters passed Yes on Prop 8.  The Yes on Prop 8 man is openly straight.  The yes on Prop 8 man can prove that you cannot marry an AKA!  The Yes on Prop 8 man will win in the US Supreme Court.  Freddy Eynsford Hill should win over George Cukor!

David_in_Houston
David_in_Houston

"Marriage should only be between a man and a woman."

...or as Newt Gingrich would say, "Marriage should only be between a man and a woman, then an adulterous woman, then another adulterous woman."

...or as Rush Limbaugh would say, "Marriage should only be between a man and a woman, then another woman, then another woman, then another woman."

Hey, Diana! How's that sanctity of marriage thing working out for them? You cool with someone getting married three or four times? How about 6 times? Eight times okay? When EXACTLY do straight people actually destroy the sanctity of marriage, Diana? ...and why exactly should Rush be permitted to marry FOUR times (and NEVER have children), but gay couples should be banned from marrying?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Would it bug you if a gay couple lived next door to you?

sacredh
sacredh

Are they going to keep their lawn looking nice? If the answer is yes, my answer is no.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Are you a native English speaker?  And who is Freddy Eynsford Hill and who is George Cukor?

May I suggest informal classes in writing, logic and rhetoric  at your local community college?  It will greatly enhance your blog experience.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

George Cukor was a director in the "golden age" of Hollywood (A Star is Born, My Fair Lady, Philadelphia Story, Adam's Rib, etc.). And he was gay.

No idea what he has to do with Prop 8, or the above post, but he was a fantastic director, especially known for getting great performances from actresses. (No, I don't watch many old movies, why do you ask?)

yellowsub1
yellowsub1

I'd say the pro-gay marriage republicans who are worrying should wake up and smell the coffee! It's time for them to become Democrats.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

GOP 2012 – "We're for freedom and individual rights … except when we're not."

MrObvious
MrObvious

You mean the freedom to agree in what rights you have?

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

Hey, you'll take whatever freedom we give you, and you'll like it!

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Mostly not, even if we say otherwise.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

And we get to decide who's free and who has rights.

Thomas Alex
Thomas Alex

I thought the Constitution decided who's free and who has rights. 

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

 The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society-Which version? The one where parents arrange their children's marriages, or the one where dowries are involved?

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The Republicans would say the committed one.  But we know they lie through their teeth.  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Heh.

Republicals used to believe all that privacy stuff.  Then abortion and school-mandated prayer came along.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

“At some point, it’s going to look like you’re so out of touch that people will abandon you.”

Psst... Look over your shoulder to see that point.

I'm glad to read that there are some people in the GOP that are OK with gay marriage.  It's a stance that's much more consistent with the greater freedom, smaller government ethos that the party as a whole claims to be in favor of.  

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

It's a true mystery of nature (and psychology) that any woman, person of color or homosexual would ever vote Republican.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

It's a very dark and lonely place in the Republican party, and I would ask, what's the point?  President Obama supports equality for all Americans.  

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

 Actually, that whole smaller gov more freedom schtick........it's libertarian. The Rs have welded themselves to the american taliban, who support their freedom to tell everyone else what to do.

Tero1
Tero1

We are past the point in history when one can oppose gay rights and still be considered a decent person.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I certainly agree that there are few decent people in the Republican party.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

...but not to the point where people think it'll still infect them if they run into a couple.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Monogamy, Commitment, Love?

Obviously these fly in the face of Family Values!