According to the Log Cabin Republicans, 36 GOP legislators in six Northeastern states (including several RLC-endorsed legislators) have voted to affirm individual rights on gay marriage votes. Widely-respected conservative commentator Cal Thomas recently wrote that perhaps its time for evangelicals to give up on the issue of gay marriage. He says:
“To those on the political and religious right who are intent on continuing the battle to preserve ‘traditional marriage’ in a nation that is rapidly discarding its traditions, I would ask this question: What poses a greater threat to our remaining moral underpinnings?
Is it two homosexuals living together, or is it the number of heterosexuals who are divorcing and the increasing number of children born to unmarried women, now at nearly 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Most of those who are disturbed about same-sex marriage are not as exercised about preserving heterosexual marriage. That’s because it doesn’t raise money and won’t get them on TV. Some preachers would rather demonize gays than oppose heterosexuals who violate their vows by divorcing, often causing harm to their children. That’s because so many in their congregations have been divorced and preaching against divorce might cause some to leave and take their contributions with them.
The battle over same-sex marriage is on the way to being lost [for social conservatives]. For conservatives who still have faith in the political system to reverse the momentum, you are — to recall Harold Hill [in The Music Man] — ‘closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge’.”
As evidence of Cal Thomas’s commentary, the Log Cabin Republicans have recorded the following recent legislative action affirming equal (not special) rights for gays and lesbians:
· On March 23, the Vermont Senate passed marriage with the support of a majority of the Republican Conference.
· On March 26, twelve Republicans (including two RLC-endorsed legislators) provided the margin of victory for marriage equality in the New Hampshire House.
· On March 30, three Republicans (including the RLC’s Art O’Neill) on the Connecticut legislature’s Joint Committee on Judiciary voted to codify the state’s marriage equality ruling.
· On April 3, six Republicans joined their colleagues in the Vermont House to send marriage equality to the Governor.
· On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court recognzied the right to marry in an opinion written by Republican-appointed Associate Justice Mark Cady.
· And on April 7, the Vermont House and Senate successfully overrode a governor’s veto to make Vermont the first state to enact marriage equality without the order of a court – and six courageous House Republicans provided the margin of victory.
There may also be a shift among at least some Republicans on the issue of decriminalizing (and taxing) marijuana and medical marijuana. In a New Hampshire vote earlier this week, nearly a dozen RLC-endorsed legislators (including Reps. Coffey, Ingbretson, McGuire, Hopper, Ober, Pratt, Reagan, Renzullo, Soucy, and Vaillancourt) voted for HB 648, which permits medical marijuana use in New Hampshire if prescribed by a physician. The bill, similar to the California law that has been under attack by the federal government for years now, passed the House and now moves on to the Senate.
In a 1997 poll, 57% of Republicans supported marijuana for medicinal purposes. Is that number on the rise? There is no recent polling data measuring Republican opinion of decriminalization or medical marijuana and New Hampshire is the only state with RLC legislators that has pending legislation addressing the issue of medical marijuana. So perhaps it is too soon to tell what the trend among Republicans is, but if New Hampshire is any indication, there has been a shift of opinion on medical marijuana among Republican legislators.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
It seems that there is a positive shift in priorities among Republicans.
Perhaps focusing on critical economic issues instead of hot-button social issues will provide Republicans the leverage they need to once again become the party that advocates limited, Constitutional government and protection of individual rights.