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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2014 midterm elections are still months away, but a group of young Republican activists have set their sights on 2016 as they meet in Iowa this week to launch a planned two-year, $1 million effort to convince the GOP to adopt support for same-sex “marriage” as part of the party platform.

“It’s time for the party to modernize on this issue,” Margaret Hoover of “Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry” – a spinoff of the national “Freedom to Marry” homosexual advocacy group – told Politico. “Savvy 2016 candidates realize that this is not going to be a winning wedge issue.”

Hoover and her colleagues from Freedom to Marry will hold several meetings in Iowa this week in an attempt to recruit supporters of same-sex “marriage” to run for slots as delegates for the National Republican Convention in 2016. 

Iowa is just the beginning, however – the group is starting with the early primary states that most strongly influence presidential nominations and branching out from there, in hopes that they will build support for their issue in key primary states, while electing enough pro-homosexual delegates nationally to change the party platform at the convention.

“We’re trying to get all anti-gay language out of the Republican platform so that it is welcoming to LGBT folks, so it is welcoming to younger voters,” Freedom to Marry national campaign director Marc Solomon told Politico. He said that he was encouraged by a 2012 “autopsy report” released previously by the GOP that said the party’s opposition to same-sex “marriage” was a “barrier to entry” for voters under 30, 69 percent of whom support legalizing the practice, according to a recent Pew Research poll.

Ed Lopez, another member of the group, told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that the early primary states were chosen as the initial targets for their effort because as the 2016 presidential primaries heat up, candidates will be frequently visiting those states, and the entire nation will be watching.  The group hopes that their campaign will shape the early debates and force the GOP to confront the same-sex “marriage” issue head on.

“I think there’s an opportunity here for the party to recalibrate and to really move forward,” said Lopez. “It’s a tipping point in a sense, and I think it’s a decisive moment for the party that will frame its future in our two-party system and the American dialogue. So it’s a very important year in that respect.”

Hoover told Politico that she predicts the pressure will convince even socially conservative candidates to stay silent on the marriage issue.  Candidates whose support comes from “socially conservative folks in the party, who wanted to double down, aren’t going to run on that,” she said.

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Not everyone involved with Freedom to Marry is waiting for 2016.  The Hill reported that Kathryn Lehman, a top GOP lobbyist who actually helped to draft the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – which federally defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but was effectively struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 – is now paying regular visits to between 40 and 50 incumbent Republican legislators to pressure them to change their tune on same-sex “marriage.”

“The issue is losing its toxicity, from a Republican perspective,” Lehman told The Hill.

Several members of Freedom to Marry also told Politico they’re counting on the Supreme Court to agree to hear one of the many pending cases challenging state-level same-sex “marriage” bans in 2015 or early 2016, and declare such laws unconstitutional.

If that happens, they said, it could make it easier for socially conservative candidates to back away from the issue by telling unhappy voters that “the courts have spoken.”


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