Former RNC Chair Makes 'Conservative Case' for Same-Sex Marriage

PHOTO: In this file photo taken June 1, 2011, in Chicago, Jim Darby, 79, and his partner Patrick Bora, 73, and Janean Watkins, 37, and her partner, Lakeesha Harris, 36, wait at the Cook County Office of Vital Records to obtain civil union licenses.

One of the most prominent openly-gay Republicans has weighed in on the debate over his party's position on same-sex marriage.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to make the conservative case for backing gay marriage.

Mehlman argues that support for same-sex marriage has rapidly risen across all demographic groups over the past decade, making it an acute political problem for the GOP, which included anti-gay marriage language in its party platform this summer.

To skeptical conservatives, Mehlman says they won't need to change their core convictions about marriage to support the ability of same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages:

Some misperceive the issue of marriage equality as exclusively progressive. Yet what could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government? And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love? Smaller, less intrusive government surely includes an individual deciding whom to marry. Allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster family values.

Some conservatives who favor maintaining the GOP's current opposition to same-sex marriage argue that it is a position that could make the party attractive to Hispanic voters, who have a dismal view of the Republican Party but hold more traditional views on social issues.

But like all Americans, Latinos have rapidly shifted their attitudes on same-sex marriage over the past decade. More than half of Latinos (52 percent) now support it, according to an October Pew Hispanic Center survey. That was the opposite case just six years ago, when 56 percent opposed same-sex marriage.

National exit polling also showed that nearly six-in-ten Latino voters say that their state should legally recognize same-sex marriages, among all voters, less than half favored legalizing gay marriage.

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