As Republicans rebound from the 2012 election and plot their future, an uncomfortable debate over gay rights is taking place.
Some party leaders are promoting a more inclusive approach to help the GOP modernize its image and reach across the generational divide. Polls show a narrow majority of Americans–and an overwhelming number of young people–think same-sex couples should have the right to marry. "The marketplace of ideas will render us irrelevant, and soon, if we are not honest about our time and place in history," wrote former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman last week in declaring his support for gay marriage.
Yet even as Republicans are increasingly willing to consider more-moderate immigration policies to bridge the gap with the Hispanic community, accepting same-sex marriage is more complicated. Gay Republican groups say they are not welcome at next month's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, the largest gathering of conservative activists in the country. A coalition of gay activists had to pull footage of former first lady Laura Bush from an advertising campaign last week featuring prominent Republicans after she complained. When a leading GOP advocate of immigration reform, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, was asked recently about President Obama's proposal to allow same-sex partners to be eligible for green cards, he sarcastically quipped, "Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out?"