Republicans likely to split with conservative members on gay marriage (The Ozarks Sentinel)

Gay marriage,  like immigration , is an issue where much of the Republican donor class would like the party to disregard the base. “Frankly,” former Bush campaign chief David Kochel  said  on an Iowa television program, “the culture wars are kind of over, and Republicans largely lost.” Many Republican consultants feel the same way.
Gay marriage was once a rallying cry for conservatives at CPAC, much as it was on the national stage. In 2006, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist vowed at CPAC to pass a constitutional ban of gay marriage.
Gay marriage squares several circles at the heart of the domestic partnership debate. Unlike domestic partnership, it allows for recognition of gay relationships, while casting no aspersions on traditional marriage. It merely asks that gays be allowed to join in. Unlike domestic partnership, it doesn’t open up avenues for heterosexuals to get benefits without the responsibilities of marriage, or a nightmare of definitional litigation. And unlike domestic partnership, it harnesses to an already established social convention the yearnings for stability and acceptance among a fast-maturing gay community.
The irony is that, ten years after using gay marriage as a wedge issue, starting  against John Kerry in the 2004 election, it is the GOP for whom the issue poses a threat. Public opinion on gay marriage has swung dramatically: in 2004, a mere  30 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage ; today, nearly 65 percent do. It’s been called the largest turnabout on any social issue in American history. Support is even higher among young Americans, and even a majority of young Republicans support same-sex marriage.
As the Supreme Court hears arguments over gay marriage, the debate over the rights of couples of the same sex has also reverberated around the globe.
Wedding bells are still a distant dream for gays and lesbians in many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, where couples of the same sex often face persecution and arrest.
In the Sudan, for instance, sodomy–a catchall category that encompasses gay and lesbian sex–is punishable by death after multiple offenses. Saudi Arabia whips or sometimes stones to death people for the same crime, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Eventually, the idea that it’s OK to be against gay marriage because of your religious beliefs is going to seem as silly as opposing interracial marriage because you weren’t raised that way.
Eventually gay marriage will be as normal as interracial marriage, which, don’t forget, was  illegal in many states   until 1967   .
Even conservatives, despite the pronouncements of party elders, are coming around. Whether they can come around in time, or be seen as narrow-minded, religious furitcakes, is another thing.