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Steve Schmidt’s Comments on the GOP & Gay Marriage

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:25 pm - April 19, 2009.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Republican Resolve & Rebuilding

Last month, former McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt advised Republicans to “steer clear” of divisive social issues.  This month a headline in USA Today suggested he had gone a step further, calling on the GOP to back gay marriage.

That headline, however, did not accurately reflect the content of his remarks.  Schmidt merely urged that Republicans, in the words of a Washington Post headline writer, “rethink gay marriage:”

For the party to be seen as anti-gay, that is injurious to its candidates in places like California and Washington. . . . Republicans should reexamine the extent to which we are defined by positions on issues that I don’t believe are among our values and that put us at odds with what I expect will [be] over time, if not a consensus view, then the view of a substantial majority of voters.

Given the support Republicans enjoy with social conservatives, it would be folly for the party to back gay marriage (heck, even the Democrats don’t back gay marriage), but given the need for the GOP to win back suburbanites and reach out to young voters, it would be an even greater folly to let the party be defined by such social conservatives.

The perception that the party’s focus is social issues is a killer to building a broad-based coalition that can win elections.  And the GOP seems to gain that perception when it loses sight of the fiscal conservative principles which drove its success in the 1980s and 1994.

When we lose sight of those principles, for example when President George H.W. Bush raised taxes despite pledging not to do so, then the party’s social conservative principles seem to dominate as they did at the 1992 convention and in that fall’s election.

So, Steve Schmidt is spot on.  We can’t let the party be seen as anti-gay.  We need to better articulate our common principles and develop an agenda based on them as House Republicans did in 1994 with the Contract with America.



  1. The best position for social conservatives and libertarians to take on this issue is to state with absolute clarity that it should be decided at the state level. It’s fine for individual Republicans to state their personal positions, but the party need not include a platform plank dedicated to pleasing one demographic while worrying about offending another.

    Comment by Ignatius — April 19, 2009 @ 3:38 pm - April 19, 2009

  2. Personally I think the GOP really needs to take a good hard look at what it thinks is important in terms of social policy. I’m a true libertarian(not a republican with libertarian leanings); however, like many other libertarians I’m often compelled to choose the candidate who I feel will most uphold the ideals of limited government and freedom. For a time the republicans really did do a good deal of work insofar as reducing government from an economic perspective; however, post 9/11 they have done an abysmal job. To me it seems wholly inconsistent to say that taxes and gun control are both a bridge too far insofar as government regulation is concerned, yet on the other hand they insist that the state must be involved in consensual relationships between adults? Personally its my belief that tyranny arises any time the state steps in to regulate behavior which is not violent or injurious to property.

    The new administration seems just as unwilling to actually take any real steps towards gay rights, so they get a f-minus on social issues as well as far as I’m concerned. It seems like Obama would only support some type of gay marriage legislation if he thought it would buy him votes. It should be noted I don’t think marriage should be something the government should regulate in any shape form or fashion anyways, why should we give the state power in our bedroom? Its not only the LGBT community which suffers exclusionary loss of rights from this type of government sanctioned arangement, but also polygamists; polygamists can be found in nearly 75% of the worlds population and I really don’t see any compelling reason to disallow it.

    Bottom line: if two or more parties wish two contractually agree to co-habitate and spend their lives together why should they be prohibited?

    Comment by John Berger — April 19, 2009 @ 5:25 pm - April 19, 2009

  3. If the party cannot back same-sex marriage it should at change its perception among gay voters and their families.

    Comment by Andrew — April 19, 2009 @ 5:55 pm - April 19, 2009

  4. Dan,

    You beat this dead-horse ceaselessly and never answer criticism. So, I’m going to ratchet up my criticism.

    You have argued on one hand, correctly, that there is nothing inherently anti-gay about supporting traditional marriage. Indeed there isn’t. Yet, on the other, you argue that Republicans must stop supporting traditional marriage lest we appear anti-gay.

    So, in other words, rather than stand up for principles, you argue, the Republican party should concede to erroneous characterizations of their principles made by their opponents and allow policy that a large majority of Americans think is harmful…in order to correct an erroneous perception held by people who arent likely to vote for Republicans to begin with.

    Gee, that sounds like a great idea!

    And to what end?

    You argue that Schmidt (and Meghan McCain, David Frumpy, etc) is “spot on” when he says — as you quote:

    For the party to be seen as anti-gay, that is injurious to its candidates in places like California and Washington

    And perhaps it is, but as you have previously said, being pro-marriage is NOT anti-gay.

    But one thing that is demonstrably NOT true, is that supporting traditional marriage has hurt Republicans in places like California, where the very pro-gay John McCain lost overwhelmingly despite his pro-gay positions, attitudes and overtures — yet proposition 8 WON a healthy majority in a deeply liberal state.

    In short: Pro-gay Republicans LOSE while “anti-gay” traditional marriage WINS.

    Either 53% of Californians are anti-gay, or you are promoting falsehoods.

    By the way, that victory alone shows traditional marriage values are NOT just a “social conservative” position as you infer, but an issue with mainstream support. If 53% of Californians were “social conservatives” Republicans would own the state.

    And if Republicans are to abandon support for traditional marriage so that we dont “appear” anti-gay…. where is it you suggest we are going to make inroads with the 53% of Californians and other Americans who agree that traditional marriage is important? You know, the people Republicans need in order to win?

    Whats more, I think you, Meghan McCain, David Frumpy, and this man who engineered John McCains LOSS do great harm to Republicans by accepting and promoting the falsehood that supporting and defending the importance of traditional marriage is somehow “anti-gay”.

    Remember, the exact same people who buy the b*llshit that Republicans are “anti-gay” are the exact same people who think we are sexist, racist, bigots.

    Perhaps you can next argue that we should stop supporting the 10th amendment, and stop opposing a cradle to grave welfare state lest we “appear” racist and sexist?

    Comment by American Elephant — April 19, 2009 @ 10:41 pm - April 19, 2009

  5. filtered 🙁

    Comment by American Elephant — April 19, 2009 @ 10:41 pm - April 19, 2009

  6. I appreciate the fine line that Mr. Schmidt is trying to navigate.
    Too bad, really, that the headline writer mislead.
    I see it all of the time that liberals act all self righteous about gay marriage AS IF their leaders support it….when, as you accurately point out Deomcrat leaders and liberal (or progressive) leaders will not support it when the chips are down.
    I guess that’s what really needs to be made clear.
    And yet carefully so as to not be in the manner of the fallacy of the ”you do it too,” argument.

    Comment by Nan G — April 19, 2009 @ 11:26 pm - April 19, 2009

  7. Finally a brave Republican. Maybe you cowards here at The Gay Patriot should follow in his example instead of making excuses for the shameful treatment of your party toward Gay people.

    Comment by DaveA — April 20, 2009 @ 4:43 am - April 20, 2009

  8. Yes DaveA,

    How dare we uppity Republicans look past the colour of a man’s skin (or their choice of bedmates) to the content of their character.

    Comment by The Livewire — April 20, 2009 @ 6:41 am - April 20, 2009

  9. Let me first say, I am a heterosexual female who is very conflicted over this issue. I am a lifelong Republican, but I support the concept of Civil Partnerships, regardless of gender. But I am confused by what is presented on both sides. My brother is gay, in a monogamous relationship and I love him as I do my non-gay siblings. What has gay marriage to do with government? If gay marriage was allowed, would it fix the major screwups on either side?

    Frankly, I think marriage has a purpose, and it shouldn’t be used as a political pawn to lure people towards or against a candidate. Society should engage in the conversation, but NOT through a candidate. It should come through those who are open on both sides, and those who struggle with the issue, on both sides.

    But, for the record…marriage ain’t all it is played up to be. The wedding day is the climax, and most people find out the work starts on that day. As the comedian Gallagher said once, if you want to end gay sex, let ’em get married. That’ll stop the sex!

    Comment by Mama Maria — April 20, 2009 @ 6:46 am - April 20, 2009

  10. If the GOP can’t go as far as gay marriage…which I think is institutionally-impossible at this time due to the socially conservative nature of much of the moderate and conservative base…it still might find broader-support from the base for fully-comparible civil unions at-minimum at the state-level. Many who oppose “gay” marriage do-so from a church-based argument of tradition, not necessarilly as a homophobic position.

    Re-frame the political argument as Federally-recognised civil unions vs. State-sanctioned gay marriage and you’d see a vastly-different political cross-section.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — April 20, 2009 @ 11:27 am - April 20, 2009

  11. Maybe you cowards here at The Gay Patriot should follow in his example instead of making excuses for the shameful treatment of your party toward Gay people.

    Given that Obama opposes gay-sex marriage, given that the DNC and the Obama Party support FMA supporters in the Obama Party, given that the DNC practices job discrimination against gays, given that the Obama Party supports and endorses Louis Farrakhan and his rhetoric about gays, and that the Obama Party actually ran numerous candidates who supported state constitutional amendments, what exactly constitutes “shameful” — especially since DaveA and his ilk insist that all these actions by the Obama Party are “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive”?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 20, 2009 @ 12:25 pm - April 20, 2009

  12. Stop justifying your party’s failure by pointing out what the Democrats don’t stand for. This is about your party’s failure to even advocate civil unions, not even as a compromise.

    Comment by DaveA — April 21, 2009 @ 1:19 am - April 21, 2009

  13. Stop justifying your party’s failure by pointing out what the Democrats don’t stand for.

    So you admit that you’re attacking Republicans for things you excuse your Obama Party for doing.

    If you gay-sex liberals want to be taken seriously, you could try holding your Obama Party to the same rules as you demand of Republicans. But then you wouldn’t be servile and useful to your Obama Party and they would stop liking you.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 21, 2009 @ 2:41 am - April 21, 2009

  14. Possibly I might have some credibility in this discussion. I have been with my s/s partner for almost 15 years, we have owned three properties and own a business in Los Angeles. I met him while I was living a very “out” and active lifestyle in the early-mid 1990s in the Los Angeles area.

    I have come to realize that marriage would not make my life better nor happier. We do whatever we have to do together, and continue living like we want. I do not understand the hyperventilation from gay friends on this issue. I assume it is more about social acceptance perceptions than it is about getting more rights from the government.

    If the Republican Party is to regain a foothold in the big cities, it must wink at the lifestyles of those that typically slam sexual discipline and promote socialist views. Maybe this isn’t a popular thought on this blog, but I say forget it. Republicans stand for positive family values and behavior– it was Republican friends and family that helped me out of my self-destruction. Why would I want them to suddenly embrace all of that?

    It’s a ruse to say that the gay community only wants marriage and all will be fine. It was also this “community” that brought me to brink of suicide through its condoning of my old ways.

    But that’s another story…

    Comment by Leftnomore — April 21, 2009 @ 2:49 pm - April 21, 2009

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