To hear party leaders tell it, the GOP has a united front on gay marriage: The party is unabashedly against it. But dig a little deeper, and cracks emerge.
In light of the steadily growing number of Americans supporting same-sex marriage over the past decade—with the latest numbers showing that 59 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed—some Republican presidential hopefuls are taking a notably softer stance in their opposition, while others are going all-out to secure conservative opposed to same-sex marriage.
While no 2016 contender has outright declared his or her support for same-sex marriage, some have hedged on whether they’d accept a federal ruling, or prefer the question be left to the states. Strategically, some proponents of gay marriage within the party have argued that going neutral is the only way to succeed in 2016; in fact, a tenacious group of Republicans is leading a push to scrap gay marriage from the GOP’s 2016 platform.
It’s unclear if that will happen. But the uniform stances by presidential contenders—at least the ones who have a chance at the nomination—indicate that there won’t be an opening for embracing same-sex marriage in the coming presidential race.
However, the willingness to really open up and talk about same-sex marriage isn’t consistent among the party’s likely candidates. While some 2016 contenders were more than obliging to respond to questions from National Journal on their gay marriage stances, others dodged, didn’t respond, or refused to comment.
Looming, of course, is the Supreme Court decision on whether states have the right to ban same-sex couples from getting married, which is due this summer. If the justices rule in favor of a definition of marriage that includes same-sex couples—which they are expected to do—it will force GOP contenders to reconcile the decision and its aftermath with policy views some of them don’t love talking about. This is where they stand now.