Newsflash: Young Republicans In Alabama Support Same-Sex Marriage
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many young members of the Republican Party are moving away from the social values that have traditionally been associated with the party — and becoming increasingly vocal about it. During the 2012 presidential election, the New York Times ran a piece on young Republicans who support same-sex marriage and abortion rights. On Monday, Slate posted an article about the party's youth contingency in Alabama that reiterates the shift.
Stephanie Petelos, the president of the state's College Republican Federation, indicated her support of marriage equality as part of an All Alabama article discussing the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.
"I think a lot of people would be actively for it if they didn't live in fear of backlash from party leaders," Petelos said. "We don't want to go against the party, we love the party. We're just passionate about a whole list of other issues, that's why we're involved."
"The rhetoric is harmful to the party," she added. "The harsh language used by our leaders will really continue pushing and turning people away from learning about our party."
In response, the Republican Executive Committee of Alabama considered a proposal to censure her by forbidding any member of the state's Republican steering committee from publicly opposing the committee's resolutions. Because free speech.
The proposal would have effectively expelled Petelos from the state's Republican network, but the committee ended up rejecting the measure — which, thankfully, means other Republicans in the state can vocally support gay rights.
As Slate points out, the committee's decision isn't just good news for gay people, it's good news for Republicans. A Gallup poll from earlier this summer finds that the majority of Americans support marriage equality. Republicans have a history of alienating gay voters, female voters, young voters, and minority voters. Preventing open dialogue about an important social issue on which the party's stance arguably turns away certain (or most) members of all these groups is clearly damaging.
Others might disagree. As Matt Hoagland, the county leader of a group of young North Carolina Republicans, said in 2012, "Social issues are far down the priorities list, and I think that’s the trend. That’s where it needs to go if the Republican Party is going to be successful."