As many Republican politicians continue to change their minds on the subject of gay rights, marriage in particular, a non-profit pro-gay rights organization called American Unity Fund (AUF) is making the “conservative case that freedom truly means freedom for everyone.”
The support for gay marriage and gay rights amongst key Republican figures has increased exponentially in recent years.
1. Former President George H.W. BushGeorge makes a big statement with his pen. Photo credit: The Washington Post
George H.W. Bush bore witness at a same-sex marriage in 2013.
2. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)Rob Portman at the Republican National Convention in 2012. Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty
Portman became the first Republican Senator to endorse same-sex marriage last year, but he has since been joined by other Republican senators and congressmen.
3. Former Vice President Dick CheneyDick Cheney and his daughter Mary. Photo credit: AFP/Getty.
After his daughter Mary came out publicly during his Vice Presidency, Cheney eventually came out in support of her and gay marriage. His other daughter, Liz, does not believe in gay marriage, and made that clear while running for Senate in Wyoming.
4. Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)Dent speaks in DC in 2010. Photo credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty.
Earlier this year, Dent released a statement a week after a federal judge ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
“As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives. I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well.”
5. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)Mark Kirk explained his stance on gay marriage in a statement on his website.
Kirk wrote, “Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.”
6. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)Collins officially came out in favor last June.
Collins’ home state of Maine legalized same-sex marriage, and not long after, she offered up her support.
7. Former Presidential Candidate and Utah Governor Jon HuntsmanJon Huntsman addresses a crowd while running for President back in 2012.
One of the first big Republican figures to show his support, Huntsman argued there’s nothing conservative about not allowing people to get married: “conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry.”
8. George Bush’s 2004 Campaign Manager Ken MehlmanMelhman served as Bush’s campaign manager in 2004. Photo credit: Tim Sloan/Getty
The openly gay former Republican National Committee chairman believes that more and more Republicans will begin to show their support, as more of them are affected by the gay people they know personally or are related to.
9. Former First Lady Laura BushLaura Bush at a “Spousal Symposium” last year. Photo credit: Pete Marovich/Stringer
In 2010, Laura Bush spoke for the first time in over eight years on gay marriage. She not only showed her support, but predicted there would be legalization across the country (at the time, only Massachusetts had legalized gay marriage).
Those nine figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Elected Republicans Richard L Hanna, David Jolly, Nancy Kassebaum, Larry Pressler, Alan Simpson, Olympia Snowe, Lowell P. Weicker, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have shown support.
There are also 28 former Republican congressmen and senators that have shown their support, in or out of office.
American Unity Fund Senior Advisor Jeff Cook-McCormac said this in a statement to IJ Review:
“We are working to identify and mobilize this new emerging Republican majority who recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone, including our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors. This emerging majority believes the GOP should be big enough for people who have sincerely held beliefs on both sides of the marriage issue and that it should focus on advancing economic freedom, peace through strength and all the other core tenets the party is built upon.”
Gallup Polls would indicate AUF is correct in its assumption that the average American’s opinion is evolving on gay marriage, as the favorability has increased exponentially, especially in recent years.
Support for Legal Same-Sex Marriage by Age, 1996, 2013, and 2014.
In addition to ensuring what AUF believes to be an American right to marry and receive all of the benefits heterosexual couples experience, the organization plans to protect young Americans facing discrimination in school (the Safe Schools Improvement Act), and ensure those discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation receive honor and recognition for their service (Restore Honor to Service Members Act).
Additionally, they hope to combat current state laws that allow someone to be fired for their sexual orientation with The Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
AUF is also taking the conservative approach of leaving the decision of gay marriage up to the states. They believe repealing the Respect for Marriage Act honors the states’ rights to make the decision for legalization – a decision that already nineteen states have made. AUF further expands on this on their website: “it is wrong for government to pick winners and losers among us and to misuse the power we grant it to restrict the freedoms of individuals solely because of their orientation.”
To promote their cause, AUF is allowing fellow Republicans to post videos to their site, showing their support for gay marriage. Along with a small staff and growing number of Republican supporters, they hope to help committed couples take “responsibility for each other so the government doesn’t have to.”