Politics

June 28, 2013

Gay marriage: For Republicans, a delicate balance

The party leadership must find a way to reach out to centrist voters without alienating conservatives.

By CHARLES BABINGTON The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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An opponent of gay marriage prays outside a Republican conference room at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., in 2011. The issue of same-sex marriage poses major challenges for Republican leaders in Washington and around the nation.

The Associated Press

GAY WEDDINGS LIKELY TO GENERATE MILLIONS

On the day the Supreme Court handed two major victories to the gay rights movement, Rossmoor Pastries in Signal Hill, Calif., put the finishing touches on a wedding cake celebrating gay marriage.

The cake -- creamy white topped with two same-sex couples kissing -- is the first of many that owner Charles Feder anticipates baking as gay weddings resume in the Golden State. He expects gay wedding celebrations, along with future anniversary fetes and baby showers, to be a boon to his business.

"When gay marriage was allowed previously in California, we did three or four (cakes) a week, about 20 a month," Feder said. "I am expecting that to come back with a fury."

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and denied an appeal to a ruling that struck down Proposition 8, which in 2008 banned gay marriages in California. Economists say those twin decisions could be a boon to both state and federal coffers, and grant new financial benefits to married gay couples.

The federal government could gain $500 million to $700 million annually in taxes with the influx of newly recognized marriages, the Congressional Budget Office said. In California alone, the state's budget could see a gain of $40 million in wedding-related tax revenue in the next three years, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles Law.

The wedding industry -- including travel agencies planning honeymoons and dress shops selling bridal gowns -- is poised to hear the "ka-ching" of cash registers as gay marriages resume. In the next three years, 37,000 same-sex couples are expected to wed in California and could generate $492 million in revenue for the state's business, according to the Williams Institute.

"For the economy as a whole, there should be a boost," said M.V. Lee Badgett of the Williams Institute.

-- Los Angeles Times

After Mitt Romney's loss to Obama last fall, establishment Republicans underwent weeks of soul-searching. A party-commissioned report said Republicans must embrace "comprehensive immigration reform" to improve their damaged relationship with Hispanic voters. That's generally interpreted as including a pathway to citizenship for millions living here illegally.

Many House Republicans reject the advice.

"The biggest mistake we can make as a party is to pander to the Hispanic community," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. The top priority is to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, he said, adding: "the American people are with the Republicans on this."

Huelskamp agreed. "How do you reach out to Latinos?" he said. "On marriage and family and life issues, that is the biggest attraction they have to the party now."

Such discussions unsettle Republican presidential campaign strategists. Blatantly catering to centrist voters in 2016 could antagonize loyal conservatives who have funded and supported the party for years. But standing pat on immigration, gay marriage and other issues could perpetuate, or worsen, the political dynamics that lifted Obama to consecutive wins.

Even some Democrats sympathize. The GOP's hard-right base "is more demanding and more important" than was the Democrats' liberal base in the early 1990s, said Al From, an architect of Bill Clinton's successful bid to nudge his party toward the center two decades ago.

Elected Republican leaders' virtual silence over Wednesday's gay marriage ruling suggested they'd prefer to de-emphasize the matter as next year's midterm elections approach. Their most conservative colleagues won't play along.

"The court got it wrong," said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. "The debate over marriage will continue, with the states leading the way."

 

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