The drive for same-sex marriage is marking a significant advance this election season—ironically because it has almost vanished from the campaign.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)With little notice, virtually all of the Republicans running for governor in states that have authorized gay marriage have indicated they would accept the practice and not seek to ban it. By raising that white flag, these GOP contenders are acknowledging that gay marriage is settled law in states that are home to fully 44 percent of the nation's population.
No Republicans seeking governorships in conservative red states are backing gay marriage—though several Democrats in those places are supporting it more openly than ever. And Republicans in Congress remain almost uniformly opposed. But the shift toward acceptance by so many GOP gubernatorial candidates in blue states—whether through conviction or calculation—could reshape the party's internal debate on the issue.
With more Republican governors pledging to accept gay marriage, the party will face increased pressure to abandon its push for a federal constitutional amendment to ban the practice in every state—a position endorsed in 2012 by both presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the official GOP platform. Such an amendment has no practical chance today, but many social conservatives view any retreat from it as a first step toward conceding the issue entirely. "There will be political ramifications that will be so far-reaching "... that the Republican Party will never be the same if that plank is watered down," insists leading social conservative strategist Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.