Beat back by a sound multi-demographic coalition in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party is having a moment of self-awareness as it’s confronted with two different realities: America is becoming more tolerant of gay marriage, but the religious faction that makes up a prime chunk of the right’s electoral base will never capitulate to the changing times. It’s created a schism, where modern Republicans are getting antsy as they watch more and more Democrat leaders come out increasingly in support of changing legislation to remove institutional anti-LGBT discrimination while they’re forced to sit in the starting gate lest they piss off the evangtelicals. 2016 contender Rob Portman was lauded for becoming the first Republican senator to endorse gay marriage, which isn’t a good look for a party that professes to represent what the people really want.
Finding the right balance will be more or less impossible: opening up the discussion on gay marriage isn’t a possibility for that Biblically adherent base, and yet they can’t possibly appeal to a growing majority that isn’t so repulsed by the idea of two men or two women building a family. As the president of the Family Research Council—a group that’s been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center—said that if the Republican party “abandons marriage evangelicals will either sit the elections out completely — or move to create a third party. Either option puts Republicans on the path to a permanent minority.” Which isn’t a bad thing—not because this is an us vs. them thing, but because America works better when its politics aren’t beholden to the illogical demands of an intolerant minority—and as the numbers show, they’re becoming a smaller and smaller minority with every new polling cycle and every new season of Glee. The remaining Republicans, meanwhile, can present their more reasonable ideas without the shadow of wild bigotry, and everyone will win but the bitter few. Change is slow coming, but it’s coming.