“The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That’s where the compelling argument is. ‘We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side. The argument on the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.” - Bill O'Reilly on Fox News on Tuesday
First there was immigration, but gay marriage may be the next trending issue to be embraced by Republicans in their initial steps towards broadening the party's appeal. In addition to O'Reilly's quote, there are other signs.
There is this from the Republican Party's recent "Growth & Opportunity Project" report:
"For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be."
Then on Sunday, there was Karl Rove saying that there "could" be a 2016 Republican candidate who supports gay marriage.
And back in February, "at least 75" Republicans signed a legal brief to the Supreme Court arguing that gay marriage is not only a Constitutional right but reinforces conservative principles: family stability, individual freedom, and government non-intervention.
I could list more.
Granted, there is still opposition to the issue. For one thing, the court brief's signers were a bit short on currently elected officials. For another, in a recent survey the only age group to show 50% or greater approval were those born after 1980. And support of gay marriage would certainly alienate some of the GOP faithful, in particular the religious right.
But the Republican party can embrace - or at least tolerate - gay marriage using the same logic that the court brief uses - it is consistent with conservative beliefs such as government non-intervention. They can also maintain respect for religious beliefs but within the context of church-state separation, which has the Founding Fathers' seal of approval. None of this compromises GOP core principles of limited government, low taxes, and opposition to entitlements. And, in a point worth emphasizing in the Republican recovery plan, support of this issue is consistent with the party's legacy of abolition and women's suffrage.
I think that Mr. O'Reilly has it right.