Gay Marriage signaling a GOP Split?

By Richard Nelson

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November 19, 2013

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POLICITO reports that the issue of same-sex marriage that divides the family of former vice president Dick Cheney is emblematic of the larger national scene on gay marriage, an issue that many report has the GOP in a full-on identity crisis. 

In a recent interview, Liz Cheney, who is running for the US Senate in Wyoming, said that while she loves her sister Mary, who is "married" to another woman, she still believes that marriage should be reserved for man and woman relationships only. 

According to POLITICO

Liz Cheney’s public feud with her gay sister over same-sex marriage has laid bare the disconnect between party elites in Washington — many of whom have jumped on the gay marriage bandwagon — and the activists who drive the primary contests.

The plain reality is that the conservative base remains overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage, even as general public opinion and the sentiment of the party establishment have dramatically shifted toward acceptance. That shift may be even more pronounced by 2016 or 2018. But for now, Cheney has calculated, probably correctly, it would be too risky for a Republican running in a heated Wyoming Senate primary to be anything but firmly against same-sex marriage.

The saga, which prompted a rare joint statement from Dick and Lynne Cheney backing Liz Cheney, began on Sunday. Liz Cheney said on Fox News that she supports “the traditional definition of marriage,” drawing strong rebukes from Mary Cheney and her wife, Heather Poe, on Facebook. Trying to rebut charges that Liz Cheney’s position is driven by politics, the elder Cheneys said in their statement that she has always been against gay marriage.
[…]

On the other side of the GOP social issues spectrum, some conservatives worry that the more-moderate consultant class is pushing too hard for what former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels once called a “truce” on social issues. American Principles in Action — a group affiliated with the super PAC that’s been targeting Cheney on gay marriage — recently released a report criticizing the Republican National Committee for encouraging a bigger-tent approach to issues like gay marriage, and urging Republicans to go to bat on social issues.

[…]

Liz Cheney’s public feud with her gay sister over same-sex marriage has laid bare the disconnect between party elites in Washington — many of whom have jumped on the gay marriage bandwagon — and the activists who drive the primary contests.

The plain reality is that the conservative base remains overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage, even as general public opinion and the sentiment of the party establishment have dramatically shifted toward acceptance. That shift may be even more pronounced by 2016 or 2018.

 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center