The Pew Research Center recently conducted a poll on support for gay marriage. Among those who identify as Democrats, there are no surprises. A solid majority supports gay marriage. But opinion among Republicans is quite divided at the moment. The division is not regional (red state vs. blue state) but generational. While only 39% of Republicans support gay marriage overall, a whopping 61% of Republicans under the age of 30 favor legal gay marriage.
What does this mean? If demographics is destiny, it is very clear what is going on here. The Republican party’s future will be no different from the Democratic party’s present on the issue of marriage. It also means that social conservatives who insist on public policies supporting traditional marriage will be increasingly alienated from the party. There won’t be a place at the GOP table very much longer for social conservatives who care about this issue.
That is already true in terms of potential presidential candidates. I have said it before, and I will say it again. 2012 was the last time the GOP will ever run a presidential candidate who opposes gay marriage at the level of public policy. Those days are behind us. It is only a matter of time—perhaps a very short time—before a majority of the GOP finds itself in full support of the right of gay people to wed.