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Will Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Views Sway Gay Republicans?

Photo: MSNBC.com 
Will Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Views Sway Gay Republicans?

When President Obama publicly announced his support of gay marriage on May 9, homosexuals and same-sex marriage supporters nationwide rejoiced.

While some—gay and straight alike—have questioned what kind of change the President's announcement would actually effect (at least in the short term), there seemed to be little question: Obama has the gay vote locked down.

This may be true. Though, of course, not all gays care about gay marriage, nor will all gays be voting Democrat come November.

Yes, gay Republicans do exist. Even in the blue states. Some of them are as "out" about their sexuality, as they are their politics, despite the fact that conservatives generally have not supported—and have even crusaded against—gay rights. How do you support a party that doesn't support you back? Isn't that kind of like being a pacifist who belongs to the NRA? 

Karl, 31, from Baltimore, MD, chooses the party that best fits his beliefs. But it's not a perfect match. Though he believes in marriage equality and leans to the left on a few other issues, Karl's a strong believer in smaller government, self responsibility, national security and capitalism.

"I don't consider 'gay Republican' to be a contradiction in terms," he says. "While being gay is an important part of who I am, it's not what defines me. I'd love my party to recognize my relationship, but I know that the current laws of the U.S. allow me to live with my partner without fear of jail or persecution."

Karl believes that marriage builds a stable society and is the foundation of those family values conservatives are always talking about. Everyone stands to gain when two committed partners marry, whatever their sexual orientation.

"Honestly, the lawmakers can call 'gay marriage' whatever they want, as long as the rights and privileges associated with 'straight marriage' are granted," he says. "To me, the religious concerns of marriage are small, because we live in a mostly secular nation."

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Adam, 23, from Long Island, NY is also a gay Republican and has no trouble reconciling his sexual orientation and his politics, albeit in a somewhat convoluted way. In addition to agreeing with the beliefs of the party, he doesn't feel that he's faced discrimination.

"Just because I'm gay, doesn't mean I have to be Democratic," Adam says. "I haven't been deprived anything. I can vote in elections. When I go to NYC with my boyfriend, no one asks us to sit on the Gay side of the room. I've always had the same rights as everyone else."

Well, except for gay marriage. But Adam doesn't see that happening for himself and his boyfriend of three years—nor does he see it working out for gay men, in general. Every gay relationship he's known—well, except his own—has struggled with monogamy, so how could marriage possibly work?

Of course, I suggest, the same argument has been made against marriage between a man and a woman. Adam admits that he's young, so his opinion about marriage may change. 

Though he doesn't vote Republican, Obama's announcement left Geoffrey, 35, from New York, NY, equally unenthused.

"In my opinion, the announcement came out of nowhere," Geoffrey says. "The guy's been president almost four years, and he's just now deciding to talk about gay rights? The fact is, Obama saying he supports gay marriage doesn't mean a whole lot. It doesn't mean it's legal. It doesn't mean I'll never be discriminated against."

Geoffrey considers himself a supporter of gay rights. A few years ago, he was all but married to a long-term partner, yet as he recently wrote on Facebook, "If I could pick between gay marriage being legal and bringing Amy Winehouse back to life for one more album, I would pick Amy any f*cking day of the week. I don't need anyone to vindicate my life!"

"My news feed was flooded with people saying things like 'This is the greatest moment of my life,' he says. "While I'd prefer that the leader of our country supports gay marriage over not supporting it, it makes little to no difference in my life."

It remains to be seen what Obama's support of gay marriage will actually do. It certainly raised the morale of Democrats, gay and straight. But is it enough to convince gay Republicans to vote Democrat? Karl's on the fence.

"Obama should be praised for evolving," he says. "But to sway voters this fall, he has to demonstrate some action. Obama needs us fair-minded Republicans to win a second term."

What do you think? How significant is Obama's support of gay marriage? Could you vote for a political party that didn't believe you had the right to marry?