As polls in favor of marriage equality trend upward, politicians are pushed into an awkward corner. The Prospect's Paul Waldman explained earlier this morning how the incentives just aren't there yet for Democrats to go out on a limb and support same-sex marriage; favoring civil unions probably captures enough of the vote. But at the same time, Republicans have to struggle with the divide between their base, which wants constitutional amendments barring any legal recognition for LGBT couples, and the wider public, whose views soften each passing month. As I noted earlier this week, it's already created a divide between Romney and some of his high-dollar donors.
Now it looks like an issue state-level Republicans will have to grapple with as well. North Carolinians will vote next month on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The Charlotte Observer reports that one major candidate has done his best to duck the issue:
He’d rather talk about something else – say, the economy or education.
But press Pat McCrory about gay marriage, and the presumptive Republican nominee for governor will say this much – and little more: On May 8, he plans to vote for the proposed N.C. constitutional amendment reaffirming the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
That puts him in line with evangelical Christians and other parts of the GOP’s conservative base, who back the so-called marriage amendment by large margins.
But it sets him apart from some leaders in Charlotte’s business community and from many moderate voters – the very groups that formed McCrory’s base during his many years as mayor of Charlotte.
The article goes on to note several prominent local business Republicans who have been vocal opponents of the measure, while McCrory largely stays silent except for affirming his support for the amendment when questioned by reporters.
So far, the divide between the conservative base and business Republicans hasn't translated into a new policy direction for the party, but the cracks are beginning to show. Republican candidates still have to nominally align themselves with anti-LBGT measures, but as time goes on, pressure from their major funders should eventually push more and more Republicans away from stumping against LGBT civil rights.