Rich Galen

After Vice President Joe Biden backed President Barack Obama into a corner on same sex marriage there has been a flurry of activity surrounding the issue, but not much - if any - coming out of House or Senate Republicans.

There is a very good reason for this. Last week one of the most respected - and least known - Republican pollsters, Jan van Lohuizen, published a memo (available HERE) about the subject and pointed out how much attitudes on this issue have changed, even among Republicans.

As Charlie Cook, the well-known non-partisan analyst wrote: Van Lohuizen has always worked to keep a low profile. He doesn't have a self-promotional bone in his body and thus is far more given to understatement than to exaggeration.

Nevertheless, according to a memo that became public last week, van Lohuizen wrote:

"Support for same sex marriage has been growing and in the last few years support has grown at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down."

In polling parlance the growth has become a "hockey stick." Support for same sex marriage has been growing at about 1 percent per year but "starting in 2010 the change in the level of support accelerated to 5% a year."

Van Lohuizen wrote that the most recent public polling shows supporters of gay marriage outnumber opponents by a margin of roughly 10 percentage points pointing to an NBC/WSJ poll this Spring showing supporters outnumbering opponents by 49 percent to 40 percent.

Obviously, among Republicans, the age of the respondent has a lot to do with their position but while "younger people support same sex marriage more often than older people, but the trends show that all age groups are rethinking their position," he wrote.

The point here is not to get you to hang last weeks' "Newsweek" cover on your front door (that's the one with the photo of Obama with a rainbow halo with the headline "America's First Gay President," which title, by most accounts, belongs to our 15th President James Buchanan).

It is to recognize that Gay Marriage, civil unions, etc. are not the "wedge issues" they used to be. Indeed, the memo states "only 29% of Republicans oppose legal recognition in any form."

A look at some of the members of the advisory council of a Republican gay rights organization, GOProud.com, demonstrates the case. Ann Coulter, Grover Norquist, Chuck Muth, and Margaret Hoover are on the list.

This campaign - at every level - will be won or lost on issues around the economy: Taxes, jobs, economic growth.

Whether you live in Marietta, Ohio 45750 or Dallas, Texas paying for city services is a big, big issue. Whether you live in New York City (unemployment rate 8.8 percent) or Miami, Florida (unemployment rate 10.0%) finding jobs for millions of unemployed is at the top of most voters' minds.

Watching the sand slip through the European economic hourglass and wondering if, or when, the coming crisis will spill over to the United States is being factored into every hiring or expansion decision in every business - large and small - in the country.

Jan van Lohuizen concluded his memo by reminding readers of basic conservative values:

"As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government."

So, if the Marriage issue - or any of its variations - is important to you, feel free to take your position, but keep in mind (a) it is not likely to be the deciding issue for most voters and (b) many Republicans are rethinking their previous opposition.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the van Lohuizen memo, the Newsweek cover, and to the Charlie Cook essay. Also a season-appropriate Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.