Tony Perkins, the influential head of the conservative Christian group the Family Research Council, is urging social conservatives to stop donating money to the GOP to force it to take a stronger stand against gay marriage.
"Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don't send them a dime of your hard-earned money," Perkins wrote in an email obtained by CNN.
The fundraising boycott isn't intended to sap money from conservative causes — just redirect it away from the GOP. Perkins said his fellow Christian conservatives and others who oppose legalizing same-sex marriage should "give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust" — including, he said, the Family Research Council's political action committee.
The warning shot comes as the Republican National Committee struggles to strike the right tone while public opinion shifts rapidly in favor of allowing same-sex couples to wed. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has called on Republicans to soften their rhetoric and not use gay marriage as a litmus test to banish people from the GOP camp. Nevertheless, the RNC's Resolutions Committee on Friday scheduled a vote to reaffirm opposition to gay marriage as part of the party's official platform.
Some conservatives fear that Perkins and his fellow stalwarts will do the GOP serious damage by pushing it to double down on the longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Fifty-two percent of right-leaning independents under 50 support gay marriage, according to one recent poll, as do a majority of Republicans under 30, and 62 percent of Millennials. "Democrats and the media would be quick to use the passage of such a resolution" as a sign that Republicans are uniformly against same-sex marriage, say Liz Mair and Marco Nuñez at National Review. Perkins is asking the GOP to alienate the young and moderate voters it needs to win elections.
A great many Republicans who donate to the RNC and man its volunteer operations support same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Republican candidates and officeholders, as the leaders ultimately responsible for setting Republican policy, may lament the [Resolution Committee's] apparently veering onto their turf. [National Review]
Many people, especially liberals on the opposite side of the issue, aren't sure why Perkins is so upset. Religious conservatives are livid because Priebus is "paying lip service to rebranding the party" by rejecting anti-gay rhetoric ripped from the Old Testament, says Steve Benen at MSNBC. But the truth is, the GOP is already doing the bidding of social conservatives, and it's costing them big time.
On a purely superficial level, the party does not want to be perceived as right-wing culture warriors because Priebus and Co. realize that this further alienates younger, more tolerant voters. But below the surface, Republicans, especially at the state level, are banning abortion and targeting reproductive rights at a breathtaking clip, pursuing official state religions, eliminating sex-ed, going after Planned Parenthood, and restricting contraception. Heck, we even have a state A.G. and gubernatorial candidate fighting to protect an anti-sodomy law...
What's more, folks like Priebus are condemning Planned Parenthood and "infanticide," while Paul Ryan is speaking to right-wing groups about a future in which abortion rights are "outlawed."
And social conservatives are outraged that Republicans haven't pushed the culture war enough? Why, because the RNC hasn't officially declared its support for a theocracy yet? [MSNBC]
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
Subscribe to the Week