American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

The Myths of GOP Support for LGBT Equality

Is the GOP deeply anti-gay? Hardly, according to the Cato Institute’s David Lampo, who tackles that question in a Los Angeles Times Op/Ed today and in his new book “A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights.”

Consider the numbers:

“A 2010 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 41% of Christian conservatives supported legal recognition for gay couples (14% in favor of marriage equality and 27% in favor of civil unions). A 2011 poll by the same organization found 44% of evangelical millennials — those ages 18 to 29 — in favor of same-sex marriage.”


“Even on this contentious issue [of legal relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples], there has been substantial growth on the right in support for marriage equality and civil unions. An August 2010 CBS News poll found 59% of Republicans support either same-sex marriage or civil unions (25% for marriage, 34% for civil unions). A May 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling showed a majority of Republicans — 51% — in favor of either same-sex marriage (12%) or civil unions (39%). While the percentage of Republicans supporting same-sex marriage varies from poll to poll, all of them show a majority of Republicans favor legal recognition of gay couples.”

Lampo is quick to point out, however, that anti-gay sentiments still run deep with the GOP. But on the other hand, much progress has been made in recent years to grow support in conservatives :

“Yet an examination of polling data shows that most rank-and-file Republicans view gay rights issues — including the repeal of state sodomy laws, equal access to the same legal rights and privileges as heterosexuals, and the right to serve in the armed forces — as compatible with core Republican principles of individual liberty, limited government and free enterprise.”

When the American Foundation for Equal Rights brought Ted Olson and David Boies together in 2009 to take on California’s Prop. 8 in federal court, we knew that equality for LGBT Americans would only be achieved with the help of allies reaching across the aisle. As Ted wrote in a 2010 Newsweek cover story:

“Americans who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal dignity before the law cannot sit by while this wrong continues. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American one, and it is time that we, as Americans, embraced it.”

Lampo will be discussing why Republicans, Conservatives and Libertarians should support LGBT equality with Michael Barone from the American Enterprise Institute and Cato’s John Samples at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday, July 18. You can watch the forum live at

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