A report released last Monday by the College Republican National Committee made waves last week for offering what Politico called a "searing indictment of the GOP 'brand.'" The CRNC looked at the popularity of the Republican Party among young voters and found what it says is a "dismal present situation." Indeed, much like the post-2012 autopsy released by the RNC in March, results suggested that the GOP needs to make drastic changes if it wants to remain competitive.
The study's authors are critical of the party on many fronts, from its economic policies ("We've become the party that will pat you on the back when you make it, but won't offer a hand to help you get there") to its views on education ("[Focus] groups were clear that they felt education deserved more, not less, funding") to its perception among Latino voters ("who tend to think the GOP couldn't care less about them"). And the report noted that the party's effort to rebrand itself as intelligent "is seriously undercut by outrageous statements" from Republican politicians.
But what cheered this dyed-in-the-wool Democrat the most in the CRNC's report is what it said about marriage equality. On that issue, the findings were downright damning.
"The conventional wisdom is right," the report reads. "Young people are unlikely to view homosexuality as morally wrong, and they lean toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships.... [I]t was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP."
The CRNC survey also found that among respondents who said that same-sex marriage should be legal (which they claim is only 44 percent of young voters, even though recent polls have shown support among Millennials at almost double that level), about half view the issue as a deal breaker, meaning that they would vote against a candidate who opposed marriage equality even if they agreed with them on issues like taxes, spending, immigration, and defense. The authors conclude, "On the 'open-minded' issue, yes, we will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table."
Even the GOP admits that the culture is shifting away from their homophobic policies, and that those same policies are directly responsible for preventing many young people who otherwise agree with the GOP from voting for Republican candidates.
So what do pro-LGBT progressives need to do? We need to make sure that same-sex marriage remains on the table for as long as possible. We need to keep talking -- loudly -- about marriage equality.
I realize that saying we should talk more about marriage equality isn't likely to win me many friends in a movement where some seem to resent the progress we're making on marriage because they believe -- mistakenly, in my view -- that it comes at the expense of progress on other important LGBT issues like federal employment nondiscrimination protections.
But in my view, since talking about marriage equality apparently works like some kind of magic Republican repellent for youth, our community needs to talk until we're blue in the face. Peeling constituencies away from the GOP helps the Democrats, and at the end of the day Democrats -- for all their warts -- are light-years better on LGBT issues than the Republican Party.
Do you really think a President Mitt Romney would have "evolved" on marriage equality or even considered signing ENDA into law?
Originally posted at the Bilerico Project.