Young Republicans Support Same Sex Marriage, So Maybe We Have Something in Common With Them After All

The Republican Party may be run largely by old white guys, but there are still plenty of young people who identify with the conservative ideology — with one major exception. A new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that a majority of young, self-identified Republicans support same-sex marriage.

The national Republican Party platform still demands that marriage be recognized as an institution between one man and one woman, but it looks as if young Republicans just don’t care. 61 percent of “Republicans and Republican leaners” under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage. This is a particularly stark ideological difference when you consider that just 27 percent of Republicans over age 50 are in favor of gay marriage.

Young people of all political affiliations overwhelmingly support gay marriage, but it’s interesting to see just how many young Republicans disagree with their older leadership. Not surprisingly, 77 percent of Democrats under the age of 30 are pro-gay marriage, along with 62 percent of Democrats over the age of 65.

According to Pew, the relative “liberalism” on gay rights issues of young Republicans isn’t confined to gay marriage. “Just 18 percent of Republicans under 30 say “more gay and lesbian couples raising children” is a bad thing for American society, while 26 percent say it is a good thing (56 percent either say it doesn’t make a difference or they don’t know).”

This “relative liberalism” doesn’t, however, extend to abortion rights. A poll taken at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, a large gathering of right-wing activists, found that young Republicans were more likely to oppose safe, legal abortion than their older counterparts. “22 percent of all Republicans said abortion should be generally available. Among Republicans aged 18 to 44, the number fell to 19 percent. Young Republicans were just as likely as old Republicans to favor a total abortion ban,” writes David Weigel at Slate.

If I had to guess, I would say that this is due in large part to the anti-choice lobby’s increased focus on recruiting children over the past 20 years. Last year, a group handed out “toy fetuses” to children entering the North Dakota State Fair. There are thousands of books, guides, and online articles written to help parents and clergy talk to kids about abortion. There are also pro-life groups, like Students For Life, that attract teenagers to anti-choice activism. I think it’s safe to say that the anti-abortion lobby is highly invested in indoctrinating kids early.

Even though Republicans young and old are still stuck in the Dark Ages on abortion, perhaps these significant movements in favor of LGBT rights will contribute to a more moderate and measured Republican Party than the current incarnation. Anything is better than Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, right?