This morning, RNC chairman Michael Steele delivered a speech to the delegates of the Georgia Republican convention. Steele made opening the GOP to more voices a theme of his remarks, declaring that Republicans need to “be relevant” and “engage.” However, in that same address, Steele spoke out against same-sex marriage, saying that such spouses become a huge burden on small businesses:
In a breakfast speech to delegates of the Georgia Republican convention, Steele put himself in the shoes of a small business owner having to pay for health care and life insurance for a same-sex couple.
“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele said. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”
Presumably, Steele is still in favor of “opposite marriage.” Those spouses also claim health care and life insurance and put no less a burden on businesses than same-sex spouses. In fact, a 2008 study by the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law found that legalizing same-sex marriage in that state “could create hundreds of new jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into California’s economy”:
Gay couples are projected to spend $684 million on flowers, cakes, hotels, photographers and other wedding services over the next three years – so long as voters don’t put a halt to the same-sex marriage spree. [...]
The study estimates that over the next three years, gay weddings will generate $64 million in additional tax revenue for the state, and another $9 million in marriage-license fees for counties.
Steele actually used his small-business example as a way to appeal to a broader base of the public without changing the GOP platform. “You don’t have to wear your pants cut down here or the big bling,” Steele said. “It’s a metaphor for taking this party to places and to people that we’ve either forgotten about, ignored or feel don’t want to engage with us.”
At a speech later in the day, Steele once again reiterated that while more moderates should join the GOP, the party isn’t actually going to change its views. “We don’t have to re-make anything. What do we have to re-make? Our values?” he asked. “We’re not too conservative. The liberals are jerking this country so far to the left we look like we’re too conservative.” He also acknowledged, “I’m a little different. I can be controversial at times. I can give people angina, even within my own party.”