But it comes at a time when much of the base of the GOP is still very much opposed to gay marriage. Speaking Thursday at an annual conference for conservatives, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida exhorted opponents to treat his opinions with respect.
"Just because I believe that states should have the rights to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot," Rubio said.
The GOP will have some soul-searching to do on the issue, which is still important, particularly to evangelical social conservatives who have voted Republican.
"While you still have some GOP lawmakers willing to take a stand for traditional marriage, the Republican leadership has walked away from this issue," David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network wrote.
"In turn, what very well may happen is that conservative evangelicals all across the country may start walking away from the GOP. That's not just empty rhetoric. That really could be reality."