Ralph Reed, first executive director of the Christian Coalition 20 years ago and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, admits that marriage equality has less resonance for the Right than it did not very long ago. The Democrats’ decision to add marriage equality to party platform for 2012 sparked only a single media call to the organization, Reed said. But, he said, Mitt Romney should make a point of the issue “at every opportunity.”
And that is exactly what Romney is not doing.
Neither he nor the Republican National Committee had a word to say about the Democrats move to include marriage equality on the platform.
Maggie Haberman and Emily Schultheis report:
[T]he comparative quiet from party leaders would have been unimaginable even four years ago, when public opinion hadn’t yet shifted so rapidly on a signature social issue. And it marks a dramatic change among some of the top Republican donors and opinion-makers, who are supporting same-sex marriage in state-based gay legislative and legal fights, even as the official GOP platform will remain centered on traditional marriage.
“Most Republican Party leaders seem to have lost the stomach for this fight,” said Dan Schnur of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “Some of that results (from) the number of large-scale donors who support same-sex marriage, some of it’s a result in an increasing number of party leaders who support same-sex marriage, and a lot of it is public opinion polling which shows a shift in the way voters feel about same-sex marriage,” he added.
Some of those large-scale Republican donors are even backing the fight for marriage equality in upcoming state initiatives on the subject. For more than a decade, the party has backed one state initiative after another that bars marriages between same-sex couples, and in several instances civil unions as well. In 2004 alone, 13 states passed such initiatives.
But the national attitude has changed markedly since then. In 2004, only 40 percent of Democrats supported marriage equality (at a time when almost nobody called it that), and now 65 percent do, according to the latest poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (That percentage moved from 59 percent after President Obama stated his view in May that marriage equality should be the law of the land.) And while Republicans have only gone from 17 percent in favor to 24 percent in the same period, something that may be spurring Romney and the RNC to remain quiet are the 51 percent of independents who back marriage equality compared with the 37 percent who did just eight years ago.
Team Romney has resolutely repeated the presumptive GOP candidate’s view that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. And the talking points have been issued, but the fire has died down:
“The Republican Party is committed to the timeless, foundational values of family, traditional marriage and life,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.
A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is spearheading the GOP’s platform committee, would say only that “The Republican Party is committed to the timeless foundational values of family, traditional marriage and life.
Local Republican candidates will no doubt be much in evidence on the side of the one-woman, one-man definition of marriage when the voters in Maryland, Washington and Maine vote on referendums in November. But whether the party’s social conservatives will object to the GOP giving marriage equality the silent treatment and try to rejuvenate the issue with a floor fight in Tampa remains to be seen.