The legalization of same-sex marriage is not a high priority on the GOP's to-do list. However, the Log Cabin Republicans are seeking to change that.
At a Tuesday morning brunch hosted by law firm Holland & Knight, members of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and the Log Cabin Republicans gathered to discuss the importance of legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Log Cabin Republicans is the oldest and most influential gay and lesbian conservative group, and has recently gained traction: This RNC marks the first time it's been recognized by the party.
Rich Weissman from Beavorton, Ore., is in Tampa with the Republican Jewish Coalition, and a member of the Log Cabin’s board of trustees. Weissman recently joined the group because he believes in a positive shift of energy within the Republican Party.
“I feel energized by what’s happening this year," he said. "There is no question that I think this year, this convention, is one that I’m seeing incredible change; that people like me are at the table. We’re part of the party, our opinion is being asked and we’re welcome."
Weissman also thinks the Republican platform shouldn't exclude gay voters, making them more likely to vote Democrat. The fact that the Democratic platform just this year supported same-sex marriage, shows that a change in attitude can come quicker than most expect.
“We have to remember four months ago the Democratic Party did not take a position on gay marriage either. We have to be real clear that stuff is happening and happening real fast," he said.
While not exactly flag-bearers for the cause, Weissman has confidence in both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
“The thing I think is positive and makes me hopeful about Romney and Ryan is that they are thoughtful, they are intellectual, men of ideas. They’re not men of dogma ... they are men who truly discuss, look at things from an analytic perspective. I think LGBT issues do well when we’re dealing with people who aren’t coming from a position of dogma," he said.
The panel featured (among others) CNN contributor Margaret Hoover, and president of the Institute for Liberty, Andrew Langer. The panelists shared the belief that banning gay marriage goes against conservative ideals; especially the idea of the government not intervening in people’s everyday lives.
“Freedom is freedom is freedom,” said Langer, who referred to himself as a straight, conservative Christian. “As conservatives who just got through spending the last three years fighting a galling attempt to institute somebody else’s freedom of choice on our own, we have to fight to back against these sorts of things ... you have to be galled by every attempt by somebody else to make your choices for you. That’s not what this nation is based on.”
Margaret Hoover, the great-grandaughter of President Herbert Hoover, thinks that marriage between any two people is a boon to society.
“If you want to have societies based on strong relationships, a fundamental relationship in any community beyond the individual is the partnership we create with a spouse. I believe every American should have that freedom," she said.
There seemed to be a general consensus that as demographics shift, so will society’s view of homosexuality. Ahston-Theodore Randle, the director of government affairs for consulting group CMI, said that his involvement in the organization makes sense due to his background.
“I got involved, obviously because I’m gay and a black Republican," he said.
Randle thinks gay rights are just “another generation” of the civil rights movement.
“It’s gonna be a generational thing … my parents are in their 80s, they’re not going to really be changing their minds in the next two years. They’ve become more accepting the more they see it. I think the next generation of Republicans is going to embrace it a little more," he said.