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The new pro-gay Republican super PAC: A game-changer?
A powerful GOP donor wants to help socially moderate politicians voice support for gay marriage without suffering a backlash from the far-right base
With more than half of Americans under 34 openly supporting gay marriage, some Republicans are trying to encourage a more moderate GOP stance on the issue.
With more than half of Americans under 34 openly supporting gay marriage, some Republicans are trying to encourage a more moderate GOP stance on the issue.
Ted Soqui/Ted Soqui Photography USA/Corbis
T

he battle lines over gay marriage are about to be redrawn. Billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul E. Singer, a highly sought after Republican donor, tells The New York Times that he is putting $1 million into starting a conservative super PAC — American Unity PAC — whose only mission will be to encourage GOP congressional candidates to support same-sex marriage. Singer, who helped bankroll the push to legalize gay marriage in New York, says many Republican candidates are "harboring or hiding" their openness to legalizing gay marriage, and he wants to financially shield them from the backlash of powerful conservative groups that oppose it — by funding and producing ads that could drown out any criticism a candidate's pro-gay-marriage stance provokes. Could this be the beginning of a surge in moderate Republican support for gay marriage?

This will help Republicans remain relevant: More than half of Americans under 34 openly support gay marriage, says Doug Barry at Jezebel, and reasonable Republicans know that their party's "anachronistic" stand on the issue is political poison. Creating a super PAC to show that not all Republicans are living in the past is "simply a very smart, calculated move to help keep the GOP from eventually going extinct in a cretaceous burst of moral righteousness."
"More reasonable Republicans are starting to realize their party's batshit stance on same-sex marriage is a political liability"

But it will also make things awkward: GOP candidates, including Mitt Romney, have a "tricky balancing act" on their hands, says Alexander Burns at Politico. They're going to feel a constant "gravitational pull" toward gay marriage from the GOP's mega-donor class which is, by and large, more socially liberal than the rest of the party. But these candidates can only "buck the party line" so far, because they still need the more conservative GOP base to go out and vote — and those Americans won't embrace gay marriage anytime soon.
"Paul Singer to fund pro-gay GOP super PAC"

Either way, this is no game-changer: Singer's super PAC might help discredit the "very basic, black and white picture" of super PACs as simply right- or left-wing hardliners, says Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, but I wouldn't "bet the ranch" that it's going to move the needle on gay marriage. Sure, Singer might boost moderates in the Northeast, home of socially liberal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Singer's pro-gay message, no matter how much money is behind it, is unlikely to resonate in "more 'traditional' conservative strongholds" elsewhere.
"Billionaire to bankroll pro-gay GOP PAC"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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