WASHINGTON — Signaling a shift in Republican attitudes, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes that the GOP should support the party’s openly gay candidates, provided they are opposed to gay marriage.
When asked if he thinks his party should support gay candidates, Boehner replied, “I do, so long as they recognize that marriage is a sacred contract between one man and one woman.”
Boehner’s answer was a sharp rebuke to Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who is pressuring the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to withhold financial support for the party’s gay candidates.
“My colleagues and I will happily support any candidates who wish to turn back the failed policies and broken promises known as the Obama presidency,” Boehner insisted. “This includes homosexuals. Provided, of course, they recognize that same-sex marriage is an unholy compact that heralds the end of Western civilization.”
Insisting “private lives should be kept private,” Speaker Boehner declared his personal and political solidarity with “all Americans, homosexual or not, who support Constitutionally-limited government, free market enterprise, a strong military, and Biblical definitions of marriage and family values.”
Boehner’s stand for gay acceptance is the latest indicator of changing attitudes within the Republican Party. Next year’s midterm elections will see two openly gay Republican candidates positioned to challenge Democratic incumbents: Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, and Carl DeMaio in California. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll of self-identified Republicans aged 18-49, a majority said same sex marriage should be legal.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a top recruiter for the NRCC, echoed Boehner’s sentiment. “If you are a top notch candidate, you deserve the support of our party infrastructure,” he said Thursday. “My agenda is to field Republican candidates who can beat Democrats, who understand that homosexuals are second-class citizens who cannot and will not be granted legal equality with heterosexuals.”
“[We] have no issue with gay people,” Boehner claimed. “We have a problem with people who support gay marriage or want gays to be able to serve in the military. Granted, that covers a lot of gays, but it covers a lot of women too—are you suggesting that the GOP a problem with women? The Republican Party embraces gays; it just doesn’t embrace gay rights.”
The Cheney sisters could not be reached for comment.