Republicans used to have unquestioned, slam-dunk planks. No abortion rights. Fewer gun restrictions. Smaller government. Now, one of the party's former most basic values—marriage defined as between one man and one woman—seems to be slipping into GOP purgatory. Likely presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is hell-bent on stopping that slide.
Same-sex marriage has rapidly become less of a touchstone for Republicans to rally around. Sixty-one percent of the party's voters ages 18-29 say they support the issue, and eight congressional Republicans back it, including possible 2016er Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. That coalition has the potential to grow: More Republicans running for Congress this year support gay marriage than ever before.
Cruz has never been one to follow popular establishment sentiment. At the Values Voter summit last month, he made a point of sermonizing traditional marriage as a GOP value—and was one of the only prominent Republicans to do so. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., another likely 2016er, declined to mention marriage at all at the summit.
The Supreme Court's decision Monday not to hear the same-sex marriage appeals they were faced with—effectively legalizing it in at least five more states—rocked the country. Responding to this latest development in a shifting tide toward same-sex marriage's legalization, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin acknowledged that the fight in his state was "over." Rather than claim defeat, most Republicans remained silent.