Since its inception in 2009, GOProud has shied away from the marriage debate. It stood against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but that is a federal law (impacts all 50 of the US states). Outside of that, the organization ‘had no official position on marriage or relationship recognition.’
In an 18 January statement, the LGBT Republican organization announced a shift in policy.
‘Where civil marriage is possible, we support civil marriage. Where civil unions are possible, we support civil unions. Where domestic partner benefits are possible, we support domestic partner benefits. As federalists, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach on almost any issue and that includes relationship recognition for gay couples.’
In an interview with the website BuzzFeed Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, explained the change.
‘Since our founding, GOProud has worked exclusively on federal issues,’ LaSalvia said to BuzzFeed. ‘Because marriage has been a state issue since the founding of our country, we have had no official position on marriage or relationship recognition. We have supported, and continue to support, the repeal of DOMA, and we oppose any effort to federalize marriage though a constitutional amendment.’
While GOProud will work for marriage, it still wants to be considered as a legitimate Republican organization. It offered an olive branch to fellow party members who remain staunchly opposed to marriage rights.
‘We are firmly committed to winning hearts and minds, which is why we understand that not everyone who doesn’t support marriage for gay couples is automatically a bigot or homophobe,’ the group said in its statement. ‘We understand that there are people of deep faith who may have religious objections to marriage. We respect those differences and believe that no church or religious institution should ever be force to solemnize a marriage that is against its teachings.’
According to a 2012 December poll, conducted by Politico and George Washington University, ‘among Republicans, 40 percent supported civil unions and 37 percent didn’t support any legal unions. Just 17 percent of the GOP accepted legal marriage.’
On the opposite side of the aisle, 16 percent of Democrats wanted no type of legal recognition for LGBT couples and families, 19 approved of civil unions, and 60 percent were for same sex marriage.