Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Newt Gingrich urges Republicans to rethink opposition to gay marriage

He knows which way the winds are blowing.

The Guardian

Former presidential candidate – who previously called same-sex marriage ‘pagan behavior’ – says his party needs to change.

Newt Gingrich gay rights

Gingrich: ‘The reality is going to be that in a number of American states – and it will be more after 2014 – gay relationships will be legal, period.’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

It’s what passes for vision in today’s Republican party: recognizing a new political reality and not closing your eyes in denial. Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio showed they have it when they called for a more inclusive party following Mitt Romney‘s defeat. Romney showed he doesn’t have it when he blamed that defeat on “gifts” the president handed out to his base.

Another guy who has it: Newt Gingrich, who is now encouraging Republicans to rethink their position on gay marriage.

“I think that [same-sex marriage] will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with,” Gingrich told the Huffington Post. “It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to … accommodate and deal with reality.”

What’s charming about Gingrich is that he did not try to dress up this analysis as a change of heart. His argument, instead, is explicitly political: The public has moved – let’s chase them.

“The reality is going to be that in a number of American states – and it will be more after 2014 – gay relationships will be legal, period,” Gingrich said.

Ballot measures legalizing same-sex marriage passed last month in Maryland, Washington and Maine. It was the first time gay marriage had passed in a statewide referendum, as opposed to being instituted through a court decision.

Gingrich came to power as a purported budget hawk and has never been a hero to the social issues ideologues in the GOP. He has shared the sanctity of marriage with three partners so far. During the recent presidential campaign he showed himself willing to totter plenty far out on the limb of anti-gay bigotry, at one point calling same-sex marriage “pagan behavior” – and meaning it in a bad way.

The underlying sense, however, is that Gingrich doesn’t care deeply about the issue, except for how it plays on the hustings. He has shown similarly sensitive antennae on the question of immigration, taking the kind of moderate position during the Republican primary debates that Romney could beat the stuffing out of. Romney did, and won the primary, and then lost the general against the very argument Gingrich already owned.

As for Romney’s belief that President Obama had used gifts to win reelection, Gingrich had the same reaction as Jindal and Rubio – except Gingrich, for once, was more succinct. ABC News asked him about Romney’s remark last month.

“I just think it’s nuts,” Gingrich said.

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