Steve Schmidt, Republicans And Gay Marriage

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I know and like Steve Schmidt, and have had many conversations with him about gay marriage and his party. He and I disagree on a fundamental point. I don't think the modern Republican Party, which relies heavily on the foundational force of Christian conservatism, can shift its position on gay rights without severe penalties. I know that there are many Republicans who support gay rights, and that most members of the Republican elite are pro-gay, and that the business wing of the party could care less about the issue. I know that suburbanites are turned off by conservative intolerance of homosexuality and gay rights. I know that younger Republicans tend to be pro-gay and are alienated from the rest of the party. But I also know that the possibility that the Republican coalition will find some way to organize itself without social conservatives is a ways of a way off. Schmidt's concerns may be valid, but urging the GOP top adopt a tolerance platform WITHOUT figuring out how to declamp itself from the social conservative hook -- that's not terribly realistic. That's why so many Republican strategists, even as they're sympathetic to gay rights (and virtually ALL of them are), don't advise their clients to so much as acknowledge the dignity of gay people.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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