National Journal's Political Insiders moved closer to embracing gay marriage, in the wake of historic ballot initiatives that legalized same-sex marriage in some states November and the first endorsement from a sitting president.
Asked about their views on the subject, the Democratic insiders were near unanimous in their support of gay marriage, with no Insiders saying their party should oppose it and a mere 2 percent saying the issue should be avoided. Nearly half of Republican insiders, meanwhile, believed that the topic should be avoided, while almost three out of ten were in favor of support and 11 percent hewing to the GOP’s traditional opposition.
The numbers are a dramatic departure from where they stood in April 2009, when the Insiders were first asked for their views. At the time, half of Republican Insiders said their party should oppose gay marriage, while 37 percent said the issue should be avoided. About 60 percent of Democratic insiders supported the idea two years ago.
Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?
|My party should support it||97%||27%|
|My party should oppose it||0%||11%|
|My party should avoid the issue||2%||48%|
Many insiders said public opinion on the issue was clearly trending toward acceptance.
"Wouldn't it be fascinating if for once the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?" one GOP insider asked.
Other Republican insiders pointed out that support of same-sex marriage did not necessarily contradict conservative values.
"We can’t be a party that supports a zone of personal freedom and then try to use federal power to curtail it," one said. "Plus, we increasingly look prejudiced, and not a little stupid, on this issue."
Others were significantly more skittish about such an open embrace.
"Principles require courage. No one, even gays, will (or should) respect a party without principles. And there are very sound and practical reasons for Christian, Jewish, and Islamic opposition to homosexual marriage," one GOP Insider said.
"The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it," another added.
Democratic Insiders, meanwhile, were gleeful that their party's embrace of gay rights seemed to be paying dividends at the ballot box.
"Duh ... Obama did—we won," one said.
"Marriage equality is a vote-getter for Democrats and a vote-loser for the party of the last century, the Republicans," another said.
"It's good policy and good politics. In the Election Day exit poll, a plurality of voters favored gay marriage. Gay marriage is very popular with two parts of the new Democratic base, young and female voters," a third added.
Several pointed out that the swing in public opinion on the marriage question made the issue a practical no-brainer.
"That ship has sailed. We should. We do. And we will," one said.
"The Democratic Party is the party of equality and civil rights," another said. "Period. The end."