Cast of Characters
Senior GOP Consultant Backs Gay Marriage
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Steve Schmidt, a top adviser to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, today laid out the case for gay marriage, warning that the GOP will continue to lose young voters and the Northeast as long the party opposes it.
At a meeting in Washington of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights GOP group, Schmidt dismissed conservative arguments that allowing gay marriage would weaken the institution, as well as objections from religious conservatives, warning that they could turn the Republican Party into a "sectarian" party.
"For the party to be seen as an antigay, that is injurious to its candidates in places like California and Washington and New York," Schmidt said.
He called heterosexual marriage "a tradition,"not a "creed."
"It is not how we define ourselves as Americans," Schmidt, who first declared his support for gay marriage in March, said.
His support of gay marriage not only puts Schmidt to the left of the McCain, who has said he believes that marriage should be between a man and woman, but President Obama, who took the same stance during his presidential campaign.
Despite a flurry of states looking to legalize gay marriage, particularly in the Northeast, Schmidt's view remains in the distinct minority within his party, although McCain's daughter 24-year-old Meghan McCain also recently declared her support for gay marriage. A spokeswoman for Sen. McCain declined to comment on Schmidt's remarks.
Many major GOP party figures do not even favor civil unions, which Obama and most Democrats support.
Schmidt said his sister, who is a lesbian, motivated him to take his stance on gay marriage, which Schmidt said McCain was aware of during the presidential race.
Taking a new position on gay marriage could be critical to Republicans expanding their reach, Schmidt said, though he acknowledged he was unlikely to find many from his party rallying behind the cause.
"Social attitudes are changing very quickly on this issue, and I think there is a momentum behind the idea that same-sex couples ought to be respected," he said. But, he added, "I don't believe that any short amount of time the majority of Republicans are going to support same sex marriage."
Posted at 3:54 PM ET on Apr 17, 2009
Cast of Characters
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