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Lane: GOP must evolve socially

BY JOE LANE | JUNE 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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I used to sit in high school history class thinking about how we view the pages of that textbook. This book was the past: monumental events that are so far behind us we cannot fathom living through them. Then we do. And for a fleeting, awe-inspiring moment we sit still while we witness history, as it will be taught in our children and their children’s textbooks.

Last week may have already been the defining moment of the year. Moreover, there is little doubt whether these “10 Days in June,” as The New Yorker and others called it, may become one of the defining moments in Barack Obama’s presidency. Gay marriage, the removal of Confederate flags, a massacre in Charleston, and the ultimate approval of the Affordable Care Act all occurred in one life-altering 10-day stretch.

Across the country, people rejoiced as gay-marriage rights were passed by the Supreme Court. And rightfully so, as according to a recent Gallup Poll, 60 percent of the country is in support of gay marriage.

Meanwhile, despite this support from the American public, leaders in the GOP — particularly those who have begun presidential campaigns — are opposed to gay marriage.

According to the New York Times, “not one [GOP presidential hopeful] supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.” The article goes on to explain that the only difference between candidates now is how heavily they will continue to resist the Supreme Court decision.

The question that lingers for me, however, is what is left to resist? The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to marriage, regardless of sexual orientation. Gay marriage should no longer be a debate, and the Republican Party should view this as a positive result for upcoming elections.

A divisive issue that once prevented many from voting for the Republican part is now a nonissue. Or at least it should be.

I have always been torn between support of the social ideals of the Democratic Party and the fiscal ideals of the Republican. The removal of the gay-marriage debate from the minds of U.S. voters is just one more thing that no longer prevents people from voting for the Republican Party.

However, this is not how Republican candidates have viewed the scenario that unfolded on June 26. Take Scott Walker of Wisconsin for example, who, according to the Times, responded to the June 26 events by saying, “No one wants to live in a country where [sic] the government coerces people to act in opposition of their conscience.”

Certainly, Republican candidates feel a commitment to the party’s platform outlining its opposition to same-sex marriage. Many Republican voters will appreciate and support candidates that continue to pursue the prevention of same-sex marriage. However, for the moderates and for the swing states, in which each vote counts, taking a moderate stance on gay marriage may be a smart move.

“Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat,” a quote that I remember fondly from my time in Little League and high-school sports. For many, including myself, the Supreme Court ruling June 26 is a victory. While Republicans should not view this Supreme Court decision as a defeat, it’s important for them to remember their grace.

If a Republican candidate hopes to gain my vote, he or she could take a step in the right direction by accepting the new law of the land rather than continuing to fight the opinion of the American public majority.


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