Some high-profile Republicans are saying it’s time to “let go” of one battle in the culture wars — the fight against same-sex marriage.
David Kochel was an advisor to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Kochel says he wants to begin a conversation about changing the Republican Party’s idea of family values.
“I like to think of it as my Republican values, and my conservative values—being pro-marriage, pro-family, and believing in intact families as the best place to give children a hope for the future,” he says.
Kochel spoke at an event Monday evening in Des Moines alongside Ken Mehlman, who engineered President George W. Bush’s successful 2004 re-election campaign. Mehlman came out as gay in 2010.
Also in attendance was Donna Red Wing of the gay rights group One Iowa. Redwing says she's aware that One Iowa and the Republican party may seem like strange bedfellows.
“As the Republican party looks forward, it needs to change," she says. “It needs to look at itself - what do family values mean? And what does individual freedom mean?”
Red Wing says that the GOP stance on same-sex marriage has turned a lot of voters away. She says gay rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
Kochel says he believes there is room in the party for those who see gay rights as an issue of personal freedom.
“We ought to be a big party; I’m for big freedom and big liberty,” Kochel says. “I’m for a big Republican party that includes people with different points of view on what has been now for several years the dominant point of view in the party of gay marriage.”
Kochel says by putting the same-sex marriage issue behind them, Republicans could win back voters. He says that would free the party to focus on what he calls the most important issue facing the country—the national debt.