GOP sen.: Pro-same-sex marriage Republican candidate "inevitable"

Senator Jeff Flake at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 2013. Getty Images

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said it's "inevitable" that a Republican presidential candidate will some day embrace same-sex marriage on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, but he added that he still adheres to the "traditional definition" of marriage.

Flake predicted that when that person emerges, "I think that he'll receive Republican support, or she will."

The Arizona Republican added that he continues to subscribe to the "traditional definition of marriage," defined as the union of one man and one woman, saying he could not imagine abandoning that position.

Flake's remarks echoed those of veteran Republican Strategist Karl Rove, who said on ABC's "This Week" last Sunday, "I could" see a 2016 GOP candidate supporting same-sex marriage. Rove subsequently clarified on Fox News' "Hannity" that he believed "a candidate" - not necessarily the eventual nominee - would adopt that stance in the next presidential cycle.

RNC head and veteran Republican strategist Ed Gillespie said on "Fox News Sunday" that he doesn't believe "you'd ever see the Republican party platform say 'we're in favor of same-sex marriage.' He said he "wouldn't have any problem" with a 2016 GOP platform continuing that reiterates the party's opposition to same-sex marriage.

Still, Gillespie suggested that seeking a federal ban on same-sex marriage was inconsistent with the conservative take on states' rights and the Republican Party's views on abortion, saying conservatives should argue against federal intrusion on the definition of marriage just as they've argued against federal overreach in other areas.

The 2012 Republican platform, like many before it, called for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, and Gillespie suggested the party might revisit that stance.

The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in two cases involving same-sex marriage. One case, United States v. Windsor, dealt with the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriages. According to CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford, a majority of the justices sounded skeptical of the law - some on the grounds that it usurped the power of states to regulate marriage, others on the grounds that it was a discriminatory denial of equal protection under the law.

The second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, addressed California's Proposition 8, which in 2008 stripped the right of same-sex couples in California to marry. The outcome in that case is more difficult to predict, according to Crawford, who wrote that a "majority of justices indicated they are not yet ready for a broad ruling on same-sex marriage - but they also appeared dissatisfied with the options for a narrow one."

If the Supreme Court decides to rule on either case, it could render a decision by the end of June.

  • Jake Miller

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