The notion that the gay rights community would abandon the Obama White House over its unwillingness to fully embrace their legislative priorities may seem absurd to the casual political observer. But the recent embrace of same-sex marriage by prominent conservatives, most notably former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, has some Democratic operatives concerned.
On Monday, former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt argued that there was a "strong conservative case to be made in favor of gay marriage" and that more and more Republicans are dropping their opposition to the cause. Shortly thereafter, a prominent Democratic consultant got in touch with the Huffington Post to make the case that the Obama administration risks losing the gay rights community (or at least depressing their votes) with its tepid embrace of their priorities.
"I think they have been put in a tough place by these conservatives and they should be," the consultant said. "There are a whole group of people who are to the left of them on gay rights. And they are Republicans. It should make them feel uncomfortable."
LBGT voters are not, of course, monolithic. And on a host of other fronts, they are repulsed by the GOP's policies. Talk about abandoning Obama and the Democrats, in some respects, has been driven more by a desire to scare the party into action than sincere intent to vote Republican.
But that doesn't mean it's impossible for an electoral shift to take place or that there aren't those in the GOP who welcome siphoning off the LBGT vote. Though hardly a barometer for the Republican Party's collective psyche, John McCain's daughter, Meghan, made overtures along these lines on Tuesday night.
"We get the bad rap as Republicans being against gay marriage," she told Fox News. "[Obama] isn't doing anything for the gay community."
Indeed, even in the Democratic tent there is some marvel, concern and even a twinge of envy at the changes taking place within the GOP.
"There has always been this libertarian segment of the Republican Party who thinks the government ought to get out of your life, and that group has, for various reasons, become more emboldened," said Steve Emeldorf, an aide to former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, who is fundraising with Mehlman in support of same-sex marriage. "Maybe ten years ago they were scared of this issue, but as it becomes more acceptable the libertarians are like, yeah, this is our philosophy."
"You had the most conservative vice president in the history of the world [Dick Cheney] with a lesbian daughter who over the last couple years has signaled he is for gay rights and marriage," Elmendorf added. "And if you have this guy who is the icon of the right wing there... It sort of snowballs."
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more