During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday morning, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) admitted that a Republican presidential candidate who supports marriage equality is “inevitable” and that such a candidate would receive widespread support from across the political spectrum.
While Flake’s statement is reflective of rapidly shifting U.S. attitudes towards support for LGBT Americans — and come at the end of watershed week when the Supreme Court took up cases regarding the constitutionality of anti-gay laws Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act — it appears that cultural tide hasn’t quite swept up Flake with it yet, as the senator stood by his narrow interpretation of “traditional marriage” between one man and one woman:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): Let me ask you on gay marriage. Could you support a Republican presidential candidate some day who supported same-sex marriage?
FLAKE: Oh, I think that’s inevitable. There will be one and he will receive bipartisan support — or she will. So I think that yes, the answer is yes.
TODD: And where are you on this issue, you say it’s inevitable. Are you — Lisa Murkowski, a Republican colleague of yours called it evolving on the issue. Are you evolving to use her words on this issue?
FLAKE: I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman I still hold to the traditional definition of marriage.
TODD: Is there something that you — are you thinking about it? Can you imagine changing your position before you left the U.S. Senate?
FLAKE: I can’t. I tell you, in the past I’ve supported repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I’ve supported the [The Employment] Nondiscrimination Act as well, but I hold to the traditional definition of marriage.
Flake and other politicians opposing marriage equality find themselves on the wrong side of history and, increasingly, the opinion of the American public. Support for marriage equality has skyrocketed in recent years, and the latest election cycle saw the election of the first openly-gay U.S. senator, as well as the first openly bisexual U.S. congresswoman.
Still, a Republican nominee who supports marriage equality would face significant hurdles from members of their own party, as social conservatives have threatened to revolt if the GOP abandons its hardline views on LGBT rights and marriage equality. In fact, during a separate appearance on Fox News Sunday, former RNC chair Ed Gillespie hinted that the growing support for marriage equality could force Republicans to drop their call for a federal amendment against marriage equality from their platform.