Steve Schmidt, former chief strategist for the John McCain campaign, says he is "personally supportive" of same-sex marriage rights. In an interview with the Washington Blade, the campaign strategist urges the GOP to be more inclusive of gays and lesbians and says Americans are "troubled" when they see the Republican Party "trying to stigmatize" the gay community.
"I’m personally supportive of [marriage] equality for gay couples and I believe that it will happen over time," he said. "I think that more and more Americans are insistent that, at a minimum, gay couples should be treated with respect and when they see a political party trying to stigmatize a group of people who are hardworking, who play by the rules, who raise decent families, they’re troubled by it."
"I think the Republican Party should not be seen by a broad majority of the electorate as focused with singularity on issues like gay marriage," he said. "The attitudes of voters about gay marriage and about domestic partnership benefits for gay couples are changing very rapidly and for voters under the age of 30, they are completely disconnected from what has been Republican orthodoxy on these issues."
The GOP operative says he has a lesbian sister and his support of marriage equality was shaped by this relationship.
Schmidt is a California resident and tells the Blade that he voted against Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative supported by John McCain. Schmidt believes marriage rights for California gay couples will return through an initiative "that passes by popular vote within the next few years."
Schmidt is a former deputy to Karl Rove in the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, which famously used gay rights and same-sex marriage as a wedge in states such as Ohio. It's great to see Schmidt is coming around to our side ... now. Will his support for gay rights and marriage equality translate into more support from the GOP rank and file? Let's hope so ...