Republican Political Insiders: Marriage Equality an Issue Best Avoided

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com January 11 2013 1:23 PM ET

Republican Beltway types are divided on how the party should approach marriage equality, but nearly half of the GOP respondents to the National Journal’s latest Political Insiders Poll saying their party should avoid the issue.

The poll, in which the Journal periodically asks insiders about various issues, shows 48% of Republican respondents choosing “My party should avoid the issue” when asked which of several statements most closely mirrors their view on same-sex marriage. Twenty-seven percent said the party should support marriage equality, 11% said it should oppose it, and 14% chose “other.”

One of those who said the Republican Party should avoid the topic commented, “The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it.” Another said the party should try to stay away from the issue but should take a supportive positive if pressed: Politically, we should probably avoid the issue so as not to alienate the base, but Ted Olson is right. ... This is a basic right, and if forced to a discussion, we should support it.”

Supporters offered comments such as “Wouldn’t it be fascinating if, for once, the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?” and “We can’t be a party that supports a zone of personal freedom and then try to use federal power to curtail it. Plus, we increasingly look prejudiced, and not a little stupid, on this issue.”

One hard-line opponent, though, said, “Principles require courage. No one, even gays, will — or should — respect a party without principles. And there are very sound and practical reasons for Christian, Jewish, and Islamic opposition to homosexual marriage.”

There was, in contrast, little division among Democratic insiders on the issue: 97% said their party should support marriage equality. None said the party should oppose it, while 2% chose “avoid the issue” and 1% chose “other.” One of the supporters said, “Duh ... Obama did — we won.”

For the full poll, which also queries insiders on whether President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary was a smart move politically, click here.