Avoid social issues, I can't disagree more. Of course you need to emphasize the economic issues. But you can't ignore the social issues, that is part of conservatism. Both economic conservatism and social conservatism gives the Republicans a moral base, something that the Democrats don't have.
Has abortion helped women become first class citizens? No, it was the right to vote. All abortion has done for women has done is hurt the family and made them the sex objects that they were trying to avoid.
Gay people and non Christians have never been second class citizens. Gays live together, and some of them are committed to one another. But you are just redefining marriage for everyone when you have gay marriage. I'll continue below.