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Gay Marriage: GOP Ready to Cry Uncle and Cash In?

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Gov. John Hickenlooper gives Colorado  House Speaker Mark Ferrandino a high five after signing the civil unions bill into law in March. (credit: CBS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper gives Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino a high five after signing the civil unions bill into law in March. (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Over the last twenty years, the conversation over the rights of homosexual Americans has been tumultuous and lately, and been progressing at speeds unseen in generations. When you consider the length of time many other civil rights struggles took to see the kind of sea change in society that we have seen in homosexual rights in the last twenty years, it’s down right mind boggling.

The other sea change that we are seeing in this discussion is the politics behind it.

Twenty years ago, socially conservative Republicans campaigned against discrimination laws for homosexuals and civil unions were not even a blip on the radar screen.

Fast forward ten years and the conversation began to change significantly. Gay rights advocates were finding new power supporting Democratic candidates and seeing laws begin to change around the country.

Five years ago, the political equation did a complete 180 for most GOP candidates from years ago as conservative stances on gay issues became liabilities with independent and younger voters. Many GOP candidates were stuck. They couldn’t fundraise from social conservatives without being tough on issues like civil unions, but they were getting beaten up in general election campaigns by well funded and well organized progressive efforts.

Finally we come to 2013 and we see gay marriage become a crystalizing political moment. First, high profile Democrats come out for full gay marriage rights, without compromise. And as the final straw, some Republican fundraisers and strategists are looking to capitalize on finally turning the page and getting on board with a civil rights movement that they fought so hard against just a few years back.

While Karl Rove does not hold the political sway that he used to, he has hinted that some Republicans are actually looking to finally turn the corner on gay marriage and by doing so, hoping to free up some new cash from potential funders who were avoiding GOP candidates due to their stances.

Long story short, the money and success that can potentially come from supporting, or at least not fighting, gay marriage is finally higher than the fundraising potential from socially conservative sources.

Now of course, this will not be a nationwide GOP stance. Conservative Republicans in socially conservative parts of the country will not be endorsing gay marriage any time soon. However, it does look like Republicans in competitive districts and more progressive states will be looking to take advantage of a new stance on gay marriage.

I don’t expect Harvey Fierstein to be a guest speaker at a GOP Convention in the near future, but the fact of the matter is that even GOP operatives are seeing the wave of societal change cannot be stopped. Some practical Republicans are finding it more profitable to get on the bus, despite where the party may have been in years past.
Between societal change and potential landmark cases hitting the U.S. Supreme Court, this issue may very well become part of our political history, and no longer a part of our political discussion. And it looks like some GOP fundraisers can’t wait to see that finally happen.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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