Newt Gingrich, who was House Speaker when Congress passed the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, has told the Huffington Post that the Republican Party must find a way to support civil marriage equality.
Gingrich, in an interview with the online news site, said the Republican Party has been on the wrong side of history on opposing civil marriages for gays and that the party should distinguish between “marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state.”
Gingrich, whose half-sister is gay, told the Huffington Post, “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.”
Responding, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, said, “Newt Gingrich reflects the experience that has changed the minds of so many Americans in understanding that LGBT people are a part of every family and community – including his own. His evolution resonates with people on a very personal level and is a quintessential example of why momentum is on the side of equality.”
Other Republcian leaders to support marriage equality include former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first Lady Laura Bush, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, attorney Ted Olson and former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman.
Griffin said, “Gingrich’s comments give other Republican leaders the room to do the right thing and embrace marriage equality – which is reflective of the fundamental conservative principles of freedom and individual liberty. The six million LGBT people who voted this election cycle, along with the decisive victories we secured across the board, make clear the direction in which our country is heading.”
Log Cabin Republicans also responded. “Log Cabin Republicans welcome former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s remarks calling for a Republican reality check on marriage. 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,” said R. Clarke Cooper, LCR’s executive director. “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.”
Candace Gingrich blogs on Newt Gingrich’s “evolution” on marriage: