When Will The GOP Evolve On Marriage?

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As a new ABC News/WaPo poll finds a new 58 percent high for support for marriage equality, including a staggering 81 percent of those under 30, Nate Silver finds relatively low support for marriage equality among Republicans:

[O]nly 26 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage rights as compared with 54 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats. Attitudes among Republican voters may shift on the issue by 2016, particularly if more respected conservatives like Mr. Portman announce their support for same-sex marriage, but it is less than clear that his position will reflect a broadly acceptable viewpoint among Republican primary and caucus voters by that time.

The fact that Indies and Dems are close on this – and that the GOP is such an outlier – is what strikes me the most. That’s dangerous electoral territory. More to the point, the public now favors SCOTUS reversing state laws and constitutional amendments. Then there’s the split between Christians and Christianists. Mainline Christians, including Catholics, back marriage equality strongly. Evangelical Christianists don’t:

Among non-evangelical white Protestants, 70 percent in this poll support gay marriage, compared with fewer than half as many of those who describe themselves as evangelicals, 31 percent. But that’s up by a nearly identical 25 and 24 points among these groups, respectively, since 2004. Support for gay marriage also is up, by 19 points, among Catholics, to 59 percent.

So Catholics now favor marriage equality by the same proportion as the country as a whole, even slightly ahead. Congrats to the American bishops who have doubtless helped our cause by attacking it with such disproportionate ferocity. Ambers eyes the evangelical resistance:

The party platform won’t be written by devotees on Jon Huntsman. The GOP cannot win the presidency without evangelicals voting heavily. There is no magic coalition for Republicans right now that does not place social conservatives at its core. That may change as the electoral cohort shifts, but we’re a few presidential cycles away from that now.

He goes on to argue that being “pro-gay and Republican won’t incur a financial penalty” because nearly “every big donor in the party either actively or tacitly supports gay rights.” But I do see this as a major problem going forward. Even Scott Walker conceded that yesterday:

GREGORY: Are younger conservatives more apt to see marriage equality as something that is, you know, what they believe, that is basic rather than as a disqualifying issue?

WALKER: I think there’s no doubt about that. But I think that’s all the more reason, when I talk about things, I talk about the economic and fiscal crises in our state and in our country, that’s what people want to resonate about. They don’t want to get focused on those issues.

But fundamentalism makes this non-negotiable; and for the next generation, that fundamentalism, in so far as it translates into discrimination against their gay peers, remains toxic. The GOP cannot easily dismount this tiger; or defang it. So they’ll stroke it and distract it.

If they can.