Newt Gingrich Accepts ’Reality’ of Same-Sex Marriage
In an interview with the Huffington Post, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that he can accept the reality of marriage equality and acknowledges that more Americans are coming to terms with same-sex marriage.
The Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination told HuffPo that he believes marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman but that the party and himself should accept a distinction between a "marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state."
"I think that this will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with," Gingrich told the website. "It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to ... accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states -- and it will be more after 2014 -- gay relationships will be legal, period."
Gingrich, along with the rest of America, witnessed the LGBT rights movement make historic strides in November. After Mitt Romney lost the presidential election and President Barack Obama, who supports marriage equality, was re-elected, voters in Washington, Maryland and Maine approved measures to legalize gay marriage. Additionally, a number of out politicians were elected into office, including Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who became the first out-gay U.S. senator.
Gingrich, who has long been a national leader of his party's right wing, also commented on how changes in the electorate's opinions will affect the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A challenge to DOMA is currently on the Supreme Court's docket.
"I didn't think that was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act," he said. "It didn't seem at the time to be anything like as big a wave of change as we are now seeing."
The article points out Gingrich's personal connections to the issue. His out half-sister, Candace Gingrich-Jones, works for the Human Rights Campaign. Gingrich told the Huffington Post that he has gay friends who tied the knot in Iowa.
Several gay rights organizations commented on Gingrich's remarks, including the HRC's president, Chad Griffin.
"Newt Gingrich has proven that leaders in the Republican party understand where the country is moving on marriage but he is also brave enough to say it out loud," Griffin told BuzzFeed. "It's remarkable that Gingrich admits he didn't see the coming power of the LGBT community and our allies back in 1996 but now understands the wave of change that's sweeping over the nation." Griffin added Gingrich's comments "give room for other Republican leaders to reflect on the direction in which the country is heading and get on the right side of history."
For her part, Gingrich-Jones said she was "proud of my brother." She also believes that the time she and her wife spent with Gingrich impacted his stance on the controversial social issue.
"The time my wife Rebecca and I have spent with Newt has had an effect and he has evolved on marriage," she said. "I know this was just one interview and I don't imagine he'll be Googling PFLAG anytime soon (www.pflag.org in case you do, Newt), but it is most definitely progress."
The Log Cabin Republicans lauded Gingrich for his acceptance of marriage equality.
"Log Cabin Republicans welcome former Speaker Newt Gingrich's remarks calling for a Republican reality check on marriage," R. Clark Cooper, Log Cabin's president, said in a statement. "Gingrich speaks for many Republicans who are concerned about our party's future, and who are ready to accept the freedom to marry matters to many Americans, gay and straight. As Gingrich noted, LGBT people are part of every family and every community, and the time has come for greater inclusion. It is particularly important and welcome to hear that Gingrich now understands the difference between church ceremonies and a civil marriage license, and that equality is no threat to religious freedom."
When the news hit the ultra-conservative website Free Republic, the site's readers strongly reacted to Gingrich's views on marriage equality. Predictably, they were angry and expressed betrayal.
"Real conservatives don't and won't accept it," one reader wrote. "Fake conservatives like Newton do accept it." Another person wrote, "I don't have to accept anything. I may have to live with it, but I don't have to accept it."
"Just another 'bandwagon' Conservative. He deems himself Conservative only when there is political benefit for him and the rest of his RINOs on the bandwagon," a reader said.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that Gingrich approved taking the issue before voters in Washington State. "I think at least they're doing it the right way, which is going through voters, giving them a chance to vote and not having a handful of judges arbitrarily impose their will," Gingrich said.