While conservative bloggers Erick Erickson and Melissa Clouthier were complaining that young people at CPAC were behaving like a bunch of frat boys and "whores," Samuel Martin, the president of the Fordham College Republicans, was thinking about another social issue that's lately troubled the GOP: gay marriage. "It is something that isn't openly discussed, but I would say we generally are either in favor of it, or we see it as an inevitability. Many of us either are gay or have gay friends, and as young Republicans we don't discuss it very often. There are so many other important issues, and our time would be better spent focusing on jobs and the economy," Martin told a New York site, Loquiveri.
It's not just college students. Martin's comments reflect what's more or less an open secret among the GOP's younger staffers, operatives and professionals. "I think that's exactly what it is," Martin said on Thursday. "I think we see the writing on the wall, and understand that gay marriage, whether we like it or not (and there is a good deal of disagreement on that point) is here to stay." This was even more obvious outside of the Catholic conservative circles on Fordham's campus. "The vast majority of younger Republicans I talk to don't seem too concerned about it. And there are good number that support it," he said.
Says a young GOP political operative: "More people inside the GOP are okay with gay marriage than outsiders and liberals would think. That being said, it'll be a while before a tipping point is reached where they come out and say it. I'm talking more staffers and operatives than electeds. It's something Dems want to fight for, but by and large it's something conservatives don't really care about. Meaning they're libertarian about it but don't want to spend their time fighting about it."
But that doesn't mean that the party's on a crash course for reckoning with gay marriage. Reconciliation will be a slow-going process. "There's an unspoken truce on gay marriage with younger Republicans, we know it's gradually being legalized anyway, so we don't want to divide ourselves because of it," Martin says. "But also I think younger Republicans, many of us at least, don't want to get in to conflict with the party platform, which is against gay marriage."
By Marin Cogan, GQ
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