In another example of one side losing the culture wars (not to Democrats, but to reality), check out Steve Schmidt on the topic of gay marriage:
John McCain's top adviser from the presidential campaign urged fellow Republicans on Friday to warm up to gay rights and warned that the GOP risks becoming the "religious party" with its opposition to same-sex marriage.
Steve Schmidt, in his first political appearance since the election, spoke at the Washington, D.C., convention for the Log Cabin Republicans -- a grassroots group for gay and lesbian Republicans.
He urged Republicans, in the near-term, to endorse civil unions and stop using the Bible as rationale for gay-marriage opposition.
Lest this be considered an aberration, note the Blogistan poll in National Journal, same topic:
Right-Leaning Bloggers Divided On Gay Marriage
Whereas the L and R bloggers are generally mirror images of each other, in this case, the R Blogistan respondents are divided between support, oppose and ignore. Another way to look at it is that amongst the non-scientific sample, only 30% of respondents think "my party should oppose it".
Here's a comment by Philip Klein from the American Spectator, hardly a left-leaning publication (or author):
This is more or less where I stand. My political beliefs are always rooted in the basic idea that people should have the freedom to do what they want as long as they do not harm others in the process, and I don't see how allowing two people of the same sex to marry harms a third party.
Elections have consequences, and when you keep losing, some day, some time, a few people wake up and smell the coffee. We all know the younger you are, the less this is an issue (the majority opposition is from 65 and older (probably) men, and especially from Republicans. All the other demos have a core 30% opposition and the rest split between legal and civil unions.) The CBS poll graphic is from Polling Report:
Back to the NJ poll (it's a weekly feature), let me just quote two of the interesting comments. From the left:
"It would be embarrassing to be a member of a party opposing equal rights." Chris Bowers, Open Left
And from the right:
"The GOP stands to be on the wrong side of history again. Gay marriage is inevitable and, arguably at least, promotes conservative values in a way that non-marriage alternatives don't." James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
That does not mean there's zero opposition (there's a core 35% overall.) And what opposition there is, is likely to be fierce. Nonetheless, they really are on the wrong side of history, and as an added bonus, the topic threatens to be a real wedge issue for the Right more so than the Left. Did you really expect that after the 2004 election?
Proposed state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage increased the turnout of socially conservative voters in many of the 11 states where the measures appeared on the ballot on Tuesday, political analysts say, providing crucial assistance to Republican candidates including President Bush in Ohio and Senator Jim Bunning in Kentucky.
One of the parties is on the wrong side of history. It’s a difficult position for the GOP because someone is likely to get alienated. The question is whether the religious right will allow Republicans the freedom to do anything about it, and, either way, what that means for the shrinking number of core Republicans. More to come, as the inevitable push-back from the social conservatives ramps up.
Update [2009-4-18 16:19:9 by DemFromCT]: See also Kristen Soltis at pollster.com and Next Right, who did the number crunching. h/t Adam B.
Yet whether the Republican Party amends its actual policy stance on gay marriage or whether it simply makes efforts be more tolerant and inclusive of homosexuals generally, the Republican Party cannot ignore the vast differences in public opinion between young and old voters on the issue. This difference certainly presents a serious challenge to the party's long-term ability to swell its ranks among young voters.