POLITICS
04/26/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Chief Strategist Comes Out In Support Of Gay Marriage

Steve Schmidt, Sen. John McCain's chief strategist during the presidential campaign, said in a recent interview with the Washington Blade that he supports gay marriage.

"I'm personally supportive of [marriage] equality for gay couples and I believe that it will happen over time," he told the newspaper. "I think that more and more Americans are insistent that, at a minimum, gay couples should be treated with respect and when they see a political party trying to stigmatize a group of people who are hardworking, who play by the rules, who raise decent families, they're troubled by it."

Schmidt revealed that he voted against California's Proposition 8, a measure banning gay marriage that his boss at the time supported.

"It wasn't my place in the campaign to debate issues with him that he had a firm opinion on," Schmidt said. "But ... as a voter, I'm not carrying my candidate's proxy into the ballot box, I'm voting my conscience." He predicted that gay marriage would pass in the state by initiative withing a few years.

Schmidt also encouraged the Republican Party to reach out more to gay voters and to avoid using divisive social issues like gay marriage to rile up their base.

"I think the Republican Party should not be seen by a broad majority of the electorate as focused with singularity on issues like gay marriage," he said. "The attitudes of voters about gay marriage and about domestic partnership benefits for gay couples are changing very rapidly and for voters under the age of 30, they are completely disconnected from what has been Republican orthodoxy on these issues."

"Any campaign that would go out and try to demonize people on the basis of their sexual orientation," he added, "is abhorrent and I suspect that that campaign would be rejected."

During the campaign, Schmidt addressed the Log Cabin Republicans, calling them "an important part" of the Republican Party.

Schmidt isn't the only person in McCain's orbit to come out in support of marriage equality. The Senator's daughter Meghan told Larry King recently, "I believe in gay marriage."

"I consider myself a progressive Republican. I am liberal on social issues. And I think that the party is at a place where social issues shouldn't be the issues that define the party. And I have taken heat, but in fairness to me, I am a different generation than the people that are giving me heat. I'm 24 years old. I'm not in my 40s, I'm not in my 50s and older. And I think there's just such a generation gap, that the people that don't understand me, I actually take it as a compliment, that sort of this new young Republican can come forward and make progress and be successful in the ways that this party has currently failed."