Former Aide for Gov. Pawlenty Says GOP Must Embrace Marriage Equality to Survive

Brian McClung, who served as deputy chief of staff for former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, wrote an op-ed calling for acceptance of same-sex marriage within the state's Republican party.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

April 25 2013 3:18 PM ET

The deputy chief of staff to former Minnesota Republican governor Tim Pawlenty today added his voice to a growing number of Republicans arguing for the party to embrace marriage equality. 

Brian McClung, who now runs a PR firm, published an op-ed in Minnesota's Star-Tribune today, boldly titled "Minnesota GOP should back same-sex marriage." A bill that would legalize marriage equality passed a Senate committee in March and is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate. Governor Mark Dayton has said he would sign marriage equality legislation if it arrived on his desk. 

That legislative conversation currently taking place in Minnesota is what prompted McClung's op-ed, where he notes that Republican values of invididual liberty and small government should align with supporting the freedom to marry. 

"Who do you want deciding who should get married," asks McClung in the article. "Individuals or politicians?"

"If we're going to be the small-government party, getting government out of the business of marriage seems to be a natural step," continues McClung. 

After touting the importance of religious freedom and noting that allowing individuals to marry the person they love in a state-sanctioned relationship "helps foster personal responsibility," McClung gets to the crux of his argument. 

"Supporting same-sex marriage is both the right thing to do and a political imperative for our party," writes McClung. "Recent polling shows Republicans are viewed as out of touch, stodgy and opposed to change. Unfortunately, that’s because it’s been too often true as of late."

McClung warns that unless the GOP finds a way to reach out to younger voters — who overwhelmingly support marriage equality — the party risks "losing their support for decades."

In 2012, Minnesotans voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have codified state's statutory ban on marriage equality in the state's constitution, marking the first time in U.S. history that voters have rejected a ban on marriage equality. 

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